Tuesday, November 5, 2019
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. John 19:38-39
Who are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus? And where have they been the last 19 chapters?
Mark, in his gospel, introduces us to Joseph of Arimathea by calling him a “prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God” (Mark 15:43a).
Luke goes further in his gospel to say that Joseph is “a good and righteous man,” and also that he had not consented to the Council’s plan to crucify Jesus (Luke 23:50-51).
Matthew also informs us that Joseph is a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:57).
Less is said about Nicodemus, however. All we know is that he was a member of the Jewish Council who had come to Jesus by night to ask Him what it meant to be born again (John 3).
But now, shockingly, these two men emerge from the shadows to bury Jesus. What’s going on here?
John gives us insight earlier in his account:
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God (John 12:42-43).
What an indictment that is. Joseph and Nicodemus had sat in their seats of authority and witnessed their Messiah suffer fabricated charges, an unjust trial, and a severe, torturous death, while doing nothing.
But that’s why this little portion of John 19 is so surprising to read. It seems the crucifixion was the last straw for them. They have spent three years seeking the approval of man; now they want to publically acknowledge their allegiance to Jesus.
Make no mistake—as soon as Joseph requested Jesus’ body from Pilate, the religious elite were scandalized. This would have been front page news. The headlines would have read, “Members of Sanhedrin Side with Blasphemer,” or “Turncoats in the Supreme Court.”
I truly believe John added this scene to show us yet again the wonder of God’s grace. Where are James and Bartholomew? Where are Andrew and Philip and Thomas? The last we saw them was in the Garden of Gethsemane, fleeing in fear (Mark 14:50).
Don’t miss that. While those who confessed Christ openly during His life are now in hiding, these two men who had hidden during Christ’s life are now confessing Him openly. What a glorious picture of God’s grace! Only moments after Jesus died, He is already restoring lost and fearful men to Himself.
Perhaps you were afraid to proclaim Christ yesterday. Maybe there are business endeavors or relationships you didn’t want to lose, so you neglected to pray or talk about God. Confess that now. Come clean before Christ and let Him restore you.
Scripture doesn’t tell us what became of Joseph and Nicodemus after this event, but I’m so glad God gave us a glimpse into this genuine moment of worship.
Like Joseph and Nicodemus, will you put aside yesterday’s compromises and surrender everything to Christ now? May our workplaces, homes, and churches be filled with the aroma of worship today.