Reflection: Who is Joseph of Arimathea? A very brave man to be sure. Our passage names him a disciple, and he exhibits extraordinary bravery in approaching Pilate himself for Jesus’ body, the body of a recently slain revolutionary.
Joseph was not only brave. Our passage tells us that he was also very rich. Here is the rich man who does enter the kingdom of God in contrast to the rich young
ruler in Matthew 19. Here is the rich man that God has brought through the eye of the needle. The other gospels tell us that Joseph was also a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, which may explain his access to Pilate and Pilate’s granting of his request. In John we read that Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus amongst the Sanhedrin.
Joseph of Arimathea. A remarkable man. He defied the religious establishment, put his life on the line, and gave his own family tomb to his master. Jesus has a way of bringing the best out in us. This secret follower of Jesus has nailed his colours to the mast and will be remembered throughout all of history for it.
And our passage ends with remarkable women, Mary Magdalene the other Mary. No mourning was permitted for those who were executed under Roman law, which makes these women brave. Unlikely people demonstrating extraordinary faith in the most harrowing of circumstances. That’s the story of Christianity down throughout the ages. Jesus uses the least of us, the most unlikely amongst and brings out the best in us. He so often uses the weak to shame the strong and the unlikely to accomplish great things.
Question: Do you pray for Christians in high places? Perhaps you’re one of them? If so, are you following Jesus secretly like Joseph did, and could now be the time to nail your colours to the mast? Why is it do think that God has placed you as a leader in your field? In your
position of power and responsibility how can you influence our culture for Jesus?
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for bringing out the best in us, especially in adversity. We pray today for the advancement of your kingdom, through the work of Christians in high places as well as – and far more normally – the unsung, courageous daily gospel work of the millions of normal Christians through whom Christ is building his church. Amen.
We are reading the Bible with Paul White until 7th April.