In the Bible, there are
at least 3 Josephs that we know of: a) Joseph, the son of Jacob in the Old
Testament, b) Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus, c) Joseph of
Arimathea. Also, I should mention there might be another Joseph that we do
not know much of in the New Test. He is identified as Joseph or Joses the son
of Mary, and the brother of James (Matt 27: 56, Mark 15:40). Remember, in Bible
times Jewish people did not typically have last name. They were identified by
where they were from and whose family they were born into. For example, Christ or
Messiah is Jesus’ title and not his last name, or He is often identified in the
N.T. as Jesus of Nazareth. How about Mary Magdalene, that was not her last name
either – It is Mary of Magdala, which was a small fishing village on the
western shore of Galilee. Joseph of Arimathea was a pharisee from the Judean
town of Arimathea (Luke 23:51)
Joseph of Arimathea is one of the unsung heroes of the Gospel story. He plays a major role in the burial of Jesus Christ and fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). Also, Joseph’s story is mentioned in all 4 accounts of the Gospel (Matt 27:57, Mark 15:42-46, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42). The Gospel writers describe Joseph as a respected member of the Sanhedrin council. The same council that condemned Jesus to death after having conducted a fraudulent trial in the home of Caiaphas, the high priest (Luke 22:66, John 18:13-14). Without having any evidence to corroborate their charges against Jesus, the Sanhedrin Council sent Jesus to Pilate to be tried under Roman law because Judea could not legally condemn someone to death without Rome’s approval (John 18:31). Joseph of Arimathea was a member of that Sanhedrin Council. However, he never approved of their decision to condemn Jesus because he was secretly a disciple of Christ.
According to John 12:42-43, many religious leaders, including some of the Pharisees, believed in Jesus but they would never openly acknowledge their faith in Christ for two reasons: a) fear of getting kicked out of the council, and b) they loved human praise more than the praise of God. I believe Joseph had to keep his faith in Christ a secret because if he were kicked out of the council, he would not be able to make any demands of Pilate regarding Jesus’s body to bury Him. However, he was not afraid to let the council know that he did not consent to their unsubstantiated decision to condemn Jesus (Luke 23:51). It is my belief that God was at work in the background making sure that the body of Christ did not stay on the cross that day, because it was a Roman tradition to leave the corpse of criminals on the cross as an example to subdue the people. BUT GOD, through His divine power and foreknowledge, had blessed and prepared an unlikely disciple, Joseph of Arimathea a member of the Pharisees who were bitter enemies of Jesus Christ, to make sure that His purpose would be fulfilled.
Beloved, it is amazing how God is able “to work all things together for the good of those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose.” I wonder if Joseph of Arimathea knew the role He was playing in the Gospel story. I wonder if he knew he was fulfilling Messianic prophecy. Maybe He did not. However, what we do know for certain is that God was, is and will always be control.
I love you all