Matthew 27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
I listed yesterday parallel accounts of Matthew 27:57-61 (Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31, 38-42) and asked you to read each account and gather the details into one account or one place. Did you find it difficult? Did you find it time consuming? I hope you will find it beneficial. I did the work also. Let's start with who - a series of people. The first person we observe is Joseph. By reading all the passages we get a better picture of who Joseph is and what he struggled with.
Joseph was a rich man from the Jewish city of Arimathea and was in Jerusalem for the Passover. He was looking for the Kingdom of God and had heard the preaching of Jesus, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel", he had repented and believed and became a secret follower of Jesus (see Mark 1:15 for preaching he must have heard). Joseph was a good and righteous man, a respected member of the ruling council in Jerusalem, yet kept his faith in Jesus secret because he feared the Jews. Upon Jesus' death on the cross and the approach of the great Sabbath, Joseph overcame his fear, summoned his courage and went to Pilot to ask for Jesus's body in order to prepare it for burial in his own garden tomb. His fellow ruler and secret believer, Nicodemus, helped him. After putting Jesus' in his tomb he rolled a great stone in place to seal the entrance.
This is the last we read of Joseph in the Bible. What can we learn from this account? Jesus' offer of abundant and eternal life appealed not just to the poor and oppressed, but also to the rich and those who ruled over people. We need to get the message out to all people, not merely to the poor, but also to the rich. Not only to the "working" class, but also to the "ruling" class. In other words, let your elected officials hear the gospel as well as your neighbors. Let your boss hear the gospel as well as your fellow workers.
We can learn that fear will keep us a secret believer. Jesus called us to be a public believer and let all people know that we follow Jesus. The command to be baptized is a command to go public. The command to follow Jesus and become fishers of men is a command to be a public believer and not a secret believer. Fear is dealt a blow by acting in faith. We are to live our life by faith in the Son of God, looking to Jesus for all we need to live physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If we live by faith and depend on Jesus, we will not fear people and remain a secret believer.
We can learn from Joseph that it is never to late to summon our courage and be a public believer. He may have grieved about not doing more than withholding his vote to crucify Jesus, but he acted to get Jesus a proper burial and fulfill scripture (Isaiah 53:9). Joseph didn't know how important his going public was going to be. He probably thought it is the least I can do, but God had different plans. We can learn from Joseph to summon our courage and go public even if it seems to be rather late in the game and won't make much difference. Going public at any time in our walk will have great significance.
Have you learned these lessons?