Joseph of Arimathea enters the biblical narrative in an unexpected way. He performs an important deed, and then as suddenly as he appears, he disappears, not to be heard from again in Scripture.
All four gospels tell us about this Joseph. We learn that he was wealthy, well-respected, part of the elite Jerusalem Council (the 71 member Sanhedrin), that he had access to Pilate, and that he had become a disciple of Jesus.
Luke 23:50-51 says, "Now there was a man named Jospeh, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea [the home town of Samuel], and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God." Joseph did not consent to the decision to crucify Jesus. When the Council convened to sentence Jesus to death, there was at least one dissenting vote. Imagine the raised eyebrows and the dirty looks in that room!
More information is found about Joseph in John 19:38-42: "Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there."
At this critical point, Joseph and Nicodemus stood out as followers of Jesus. They had been secret believers and had not spoken up on Jesus' behalf in the past. But this time they did. I find encouragement here knowing that our God is the God of the second or even third chance. Think of the excitement that must have filled their hearts as Joseph hurried off to see Pilate and Nicodemus rushed home to get the burial spices and linens. To fulfill a God-ordained, God-given, God-inspired prophecy (see Isa.53:9), God used two leaders of the Jewish community, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, to accomplish His purposes. Will you allow Him to use you?