Joseph of Arimathea had a true heart for God but is often only known as the lender of Jesus’ tomb. While studying in Luke, Joseph’s story suddenly became more for me. I hope as you read this, he becomes more than just a passed-over name for you, too.
“Now notice, there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council (the Sanhedrin), and a good (upright, advantageous) man, and a righteous (in right standing with God and man), Who had not agreed with or assented to the purpose and action of the others; and he was expecting and waiting for the kingdom of God.” Luke 23:50-51 AMPC
What gets me is Luke calls him a “righteous” man, and both Mark and Luke say that he was waiting for the Kingdom of God. I find it interesting that out of all of the Sanhedrin, he is the only one that is said to be waiting for the Kingdom of God, the only one who opposed wrongfully crucifying Jesus, and he chose to give Jesus a proper burial instead of letting Him hang on the cross as the other council members seemed ready to do. The Amplified Bible even starts its introduction with “Now notice”, so this is something that needs to be paid attention to.
Matthew says that Joseph had become a follower of Jesus. As one who was a priest and was waiting on God’s Kingdom, he was proficient in the prophesies of God’s Chosen One so I think he knew exactly who Jesus was and what He was there for. Joseph wasn’t just a means to an end, he wasn’t just there so that Jesus would have a tomb to bust out of. No, he truly had a heart for God and while he was honoring Jesus in the only way he knew how, God honored him. Like I said, none of the other Sanhedrin were called righteous, in fact they were called hypocrites. No one else of the council was called out in a good light. God made it known that Joseph was a man with a true heart for God, who went against the grain of popular opinion and served Jesus even in His death.
Amplified also says that he was “expecting” the Kingdom of God. To me that means he wasn’t sitting back being lazy but was diligently looking for God. H also “had not agreed with or assented to the purpose and action of the others”. He didn’t just silently disagree with what his co-members were doing, he spoke out against it. He’s not mentioned again but I think he was in the upper room at Pentecost and received the Holy Spirit. It is possible that the council had him stoned but even then he would have entered into God’s presence and been rewarded.
John says that Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus because he was scared of the Jewish leaders. I wonder why but I also see that he followed God through his fear. Maybe he was afraid but when it mattered most (if there is such thing where Jesus is concerned) he stood up for God. Maybe those are the two points: To look for God even when we’re scared and to act when it matters most. But the question is, when does it matter most? Shouldn’t every moment matter most?
Joseph of Arimathea’s story is told in: Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42