August 13, 2012
Joseph of Arimathea
Courage To Speak
Matthew 27:57, Page 1555
In response to a question, I thought we would take a look at the courage of Joseph of Arimathea and see God encourage us today. This man asked Pilate for permission to take down the body of Jesus Christ from the cross and bury it. Joseph of Arimathea presents an interesting study in fear and courage.
Matthew 24:57-58, Page 1555
The Riches of Joseph. In Matthew 24:57, page 1555, we read that Joseph was a rich man (“ἄνθρωπος πλούσιος“). In parallel passages, we learn other important information about Joseph of Arimathea. Arimathea was a city of the Jews (Luke 23:50, page 1650). We also see that Joseph was a rich and powerful man.
The Position of Joseph.
The Righteousness of Joseph.
The Fear of Joseph. Although Joseph of Arimathea was a good and righteous man, he was also a man of great fear. In John 19:38, God described Joseph of Arimathea as a “secret” (” κεκρυμμένος“) disciple for fear of the Jews. You may recall that the Jewish leaders had determined to put out of the synagogue anyone who confessed Jesus as the Christ (John 9:22, page 1674). In fact, Joseph kept his confession of Jesus a secret because of the fear of not only losing his position on the Council, but he also the fear of arrest and prosecution by the Jews (consider the hiding of the disciples after death of Christ in John 20:19, page 1696). Joseph kept his confession of Christ to himself, until the time came for him to make an open declaration of his concern and care for Christ. Courage does not mean an absence of fear, but rather the power of God in your life to act upon your faith, even when it means risking your power, position, and perhaps your own life. The time had come for Joseph of Arimathea to overcome his fear, and leave his life of secret discipleship behind.
The Courage of Joseph. On Friday evening, the day Christ was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea went and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus (Matthew 27:57, page 1555). By openly seeking the body of Christ, Joseph was opening himself to questions about why he would be doing this act. In this simple request, Joseph of Arimathea left behind the secret place of hidden discipleship. Instead, Joseph stepped into the public light of displaying his love and concern for the body of his Master, Jesus Christ. Today, every believer needs to evaluate if you are living a life of secret discipleship, or are you standing up for Jesus? God will always be faithful to bring opportunities for you to stand up for Him. Will you stand up for Jesus Christ today and declare you are His disciple today? I find it interesting that we read that Joseph of Arimathea had help from another disciple of Jesus on that Friday evening. Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel who had been born again, helped Joseph of Arimathea with the burial and preparation of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 19:39-40, page 1695). I urge you read all about Nicodemus in John 3: 1-21, page 1658. On that day of crucifixion, at evening when all the disciples had fled from the authorities and left Jesus alone with the Father (Mark 14:27, page 1587; John 16:32, page 1689), and Peter had denied Christ three times already (Mark 14:66-72, page 1589), then Joseph of Arimathea stepped forward and sought the body of Jesus Christ, and buried him along with Nicodemus. We should all be encouraged by their bravery and determination to serve Jesus Christ, even in His death, by caring for His body.
So we learn more about courage to stand up for Jesus today.
● If you occupy a position of power, be sure that you do not remain a secret disciple of Jesus Christ forever.
● At the right time, Jesus will empower you with courage to speak up for Him and let the world know you are truly His disciple.
● When you make your open declaration of faith in Christ Jesus for the first time, do not be surprised if a Nicodemus helps you with the task Christ has set before you. Your open testimony may encourage other believers to declare their faith in Christ also, by putting their faith into open action for Christ Jesus.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I want to be sure that I follow the leading of Jesus in every aspect of my life, especially when the time comes for me to step forward and overcome my fear. Like Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus will help me to stand tall with Him, and no longer live as a secret disciple. Today I will serve Christ openly and for His glory. Will you stand up for Christ today and no longer be merely a secret disciple?