Yeah, so I know that I'm weird, just roll with it. One of my all time favorite Bible characters is Joseph of Arimathea. Love this guy. Here's the set-up (at least in my head. Serious Bible scholars can correct me if I'm wrong.)
Matthew 27 - Jesus is dead. His body is hanging on a cross. All of his buddies have gone into hiding....duh....they might be next. It is a horrible disgrace for a Jew's dead body to be left overnight on a cross. Then there's the whole it was fixing to be the Sabbath thing going on as well. So who's going to ask for Jesus's body? They might decide to kill you, too. If you are really interested in this guy, check out Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.
Joseph is a member of the Jewish High Council, but secretly a follower of Christ. He has endured the questioning, torture, and crucifixion of Christ. I am curious about how much or how little he spoke out during the trial. Did he yell out with a voice of reason that day, or was he silent with fear? In Luke, it says that he did not go along with the plans of the council, but so much of his story is a mystery that I do not know what he did that day. But what he saw and heard pushed him out of hiding, and he found the courage to be bold in his faith.
Here's this guy who is a secret follower of Jesus. He is the only person with enough courage that night to ask Pilate for Jesus's body. Everybody else had gone into hiding. But not Joseph. He boldly goes before Pilate, and is granted his request for Jesus's body. What was it like to stand before Pilate and ask for the body of a man who was crucified as a traitor? He takes the body, holds it, washes it, wraps it, and buries it. A man who was afraid for others to know he believes, certainly announces himself with a bang!
What was it like to be the one to hold the dead body of God? To gently pluck out the crown of thorns? To carefully cover his nakedness with burial clothes? To wash away the sweat and the dirt and the blood and the spit that defiled the body of our God? Joseph did a woman's job or maybe even a servant's job that night as he washed and wrapped the body of Jesus. Then he carried Jesus, like a son, to his own tomb and buried him. And don't forget that this all made Joseph unclean. During a holy time of the year.
Wondering how one man carried the body alone? Oh, wait, he wasn't alone. He was joined by Nicodemus. (John 19) Nicodemus had first encountered Christ back in John chapter 3, late at night, so that he would not be discovered, because he was also a leader among the Pharisees. (Jesus was talking to him when he said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not die, but have eternal life") So Nicodemus comes out as a follower as well at this critical moment in history. He arrives at the cross carrying about 75 pounds of burying spices. A fortune. Spent to bury his God that he had not had the courage to follow openly.
So my mind pursues this story often. Both of these men step out openly with their faith at a moment when others had abandoned all hope and had turned away or had gone into hiding. They come to the cross prepared to take care of the body of the Messiah. He was dead. Why reveal themselves now?
Did they vomit as they pulled out the thorns? Did they weep as they washed his back? Did they discuss their regrets? Did they wonder if only they had spoken out earlier, maybe this madness could have been stopped? Did they have hard feelings about being the only ones there? Where were his friends? Did they know that Jesus would be raised, or did they think it was all over?
Lots of details are missing from this story. I am very intrigued by these two men. Many times I have tried to fill in the gaps with my imagination. I can only imagine the depths of the emotions of this moment in history. How must God have felt as he watched these two adopted sons minister to his only Son? It must have been a proud moment as He watched them come out of the shadows with their faith to do the thing that everyone else was afraid to do.
Application - what does God want from us that we are too afraid to do?