Joseph of Arimathea is the second person next to Nicodemus that came out publicly as a disciple of Jesus, after His death. Matthew describes Joseph of Arimathea as a wealthy influential person who used his own resources to honor the Savior: “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus‘ disciple: He buried the Lord in his own tomb. and as placing Jesus in his own, personal tomb” (Matthew 27:57).
Mark writes that Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin who was “waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God” (Mark 15:43). Joseph believed in Jesus and respected His teachings. After the crucifixion of Jesus, he came to Pilate and asked for the body of the Savior that he may bury him properly. Pilate gave Joseph the permission to do so. And Joseph wrapped the Savior in a linen cloth, placed him in the tomb, and the put a large carved stone at the entrance of the tomb to seal it (Mark 15:42-47).
Luke adds that Joseph was “a good man, and a just,” who “had not consented to the counsel and deed” of the Sanhedrin leaders (Luke 23:50, 51). It is clear that Joseph and Nicodemus had not been asked to attend the secret night meeting of the Sanhedrin at which Jesus was tried and found guilty of blasphemy. This was deliberate by the high priest. The vote to condemn Jesus was unanimous (Mark 14:64). Had these two faithful followers been there, they would have protested the verdict as they had done in the past: “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’” (John 7:50, 51).
John records that Joseph was “a disciple of Jesus, … secretly for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38). John adds that Nicodemus (John 3:1; 7:50) was associated with Joseph in arranging for the burial of Jesus (ch. 19:39). Both Joseph and Nicodemus boldly offered to do what no other friend of Jesus could do. The provision for the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea fulfilled Isaiah’s prediction (ch. 53:9) that the Messiah would make “his grave … with the rich in his death.”
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