Scripture: Luke 23: 44-56
We all keep secrets. What secrets do you keep and when will you choose to reveal them?
Joseph of Arimathea had two: He was eager for the kingdom to come and he loved Jesus Christ, whose death had been instigated by the Sanhedrin Council (of which he was a prominent member).
You read the text and you sense Joseph’s compulsion to honour Christ with as dignified a burial as possible. Peter follows Jesus from a distance and denies. Joseph denies also. He refuses the legality of the Council’s decisions and boldly requests Jesus’ body from Pilate. His secrets are out! Unlike Peter, Joseph draws close and with Nicodemus’ help he takes down Jesus’ bruised body, wraps it in fine cloth and lays it to rest in his own burial tomb.
The supposed criminal – Jesus Christ – is buried in a rich Sanhedrin’s tomb. In the dark and gloom of this day, Joseph has risked his life. He has risked his clout as a prominent member in the Sanhedrin Council. He’s chosen to publicly stand for Jesus – no matter the cost. In stark contrast, Peter, the public disciple, could not risk his life.
The text doesn’t tell us what Joseph must have felt as he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, dressed it, laid it in his tomb. “All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them, ” says Jesus (Matthew 16:25). Joseph gave up his secrets that day. What did he find?
And what will you find?
Risen Lord, we want to publicly stand for you, especially in areas where your shalom justice needs to flow. We need your Spirit to help us discern where, when and how we need to stand. In Jesus’ name. Amen
By Renee James
This devotional was written for Scripture Union Canada’s The Story.