Devotional

Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance.” – Mark 15:43-46. 

There are three men in Scripture who share the name, Joseph. There’s the Old Testament Joseph, whose amazing story from abandoned brother to Egyptian lord is chronicled in Genesis. Then there’s the New Testament Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, and a third Joseph, who took a risk on faith. 

Jesus had just been crucified. The disciples of Christ were left wondering if the signs and wonders they had seen and the amazing teaching they had heard were not so wonderful and amazing after all. If Jesus truly was the Son of God, how could He die? If Christ really possessed the divine power He claimed to possess, why didn’t He use it. None of it made any sense. 

Joseph of Arimathea probably had these same questions, doubts, and fears. Like everyone else, he had no idea what was going on. He didn’t have the ability to see the future, so he had no way of knowing that the worst thing that had just happened – the death of the Messiah – would become the best thing to ever happen?  He had no way of knowing that this defeat was actually the ultimate victory. At that moment it was not a good time to be associated with Jesus. But Joseph of Arimathea loved his Lord too much to let His body rot on the cross or be ignominiously thrown with other criminals into some shallow public grave. So at great risk to himself and his reputation, he went to the Roman governor Pilate to request Jesus’ body. He gave the crucified Christ a tomb and buried his Lord with honor without knowing that it would all make sense in the long run. 

It’s tempting for us to believe that we would have a lot more peace, obedience, and courage in life if we could only see what God was doing. If only we knew why we had to lose that job; if only we knew why we had to experience that trial; if only we knew why we had to endure that unfaithful spouse. If only we knew then we would live more obediently like Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus and act more courageously like Joseph of Arimathea.

We all experience those moments when life doesn’t make any sense. In these moments, it’s very tempting to question God’s power, goodness, wisdom, and love. When we allow ourselves to doubt the character and commitment of God, we need to trust God.  The tomb that Joseph offered was not a final resting place, but rather the ultimate symbol of God’s complete and final victory over sin and death and His delivery of the forgiveness and new life to all who put their trust in Him. Joseph’s tomb is a sign that points to the grace and redemptive work of God.

Discussion questions:

  1. Why was Joseph of Arimathea taking a risk to ask for the body of Jesus? 
  2. Sometimes we struggle to understand the events of our lives. When life is difficult, how can we make sense of what doesn’t seem to make sense?