“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.” – John 19:38
Crucifixion was the most horrible form of execution man has ever devised. It was such a degrading thing that those crucified could not be buried in a traditional cemetery. Very often their bodies were just cast on the garbage dump outside the city. Since Jesus was crucified, He would have been considered unclean and denied burial in a Jewish cemetery. But for some reason, a rich man intervened.
Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy and powerful Jew. Even though he was a member of the ruling council, he had at some time chosen to become a follower of Christ. But he was also afraid of what his fellow Jews would think and what it would do to his wealth, prominence, and influence. So to protect himself, he kept his love for Christ a secret. Yet, there was something in Jesus’ death that caused him to go public. In fact, he went so public that he went before Pilate and ask for permission to bury Jesus in a tomb that had been reserved for his family. Now that was a public profession of faith! Joseph’s request was granted.
As John was worried about how to bury his Master, Joseph returned with Pilate’s order for the body of Christ. Nicodemus contributed a costly mixture of myrrh and aloes, of about a hundred pounds’ weight, for His embalming – the most honored in all Jerusalem could not have been shown more respect in death. The disciples were astonished to see these wealthy rulers display so much care and respect towards the burial of their Lord.
Let me ask you a question. In your daily life, are you really one of those secret Christians? Would people at the office know for sure that you’re a follower of Christ? Would your family? Would your neighbors? This Easter, use Joseph’s example to move from being a “secret” follower to a “public” follower of Christ. Ask God how you can live for Jesus and share the Good News of Easter with others.