While the other disciples were hiding in confusion and fear, Joseph of Arimathea acted with remarkable courage and love. If you noticed from the passage, this man had everything to lose with this move. He was a member of the inner council of the Sanhedrin, and it was his peers who had just put pressure on Pilate to try Jesus for treason and hang him on a cross.
Asking for the body of this crucified man was a public declaration of his love for Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea would no longer be a secret disciple (John 19:38). When he could have remained under the radar, Joseph inserted himself into the middle of a religious and political drama, the very drama that sent the rest of the disciples into hiding. In one move, Joseph risked everything: his wealth, his reputation, his power and even his life.
But Joseph of Arimathea loved his Lord too much to let his body rot on the cross or be ignominiously thrown with other criminals into some shallow public grave. With a heart of worship, he gave to the Messiah a tomb, and with a heart of love, he buried his Lord with honor.
WHAT JOSEPH DIDN’T KNOW
What Joseph didn’t know was that his burial of Jesus would not be the end. By God’s power and grace, his tomb was not a casket of death, but a doorway to life. After three days, the stone would be rolled away and the grave linens left behind, because Jesus would live again, and so would all who followed him by faith. The tomb that Joseph offered was not a final resting place, but rather the ultimate symbol of God’s complete and final victory over sin and death and his delivery of the promise of forgiveness and new life to all who put their trust in him.
Joseph of Arimathea had no idea that generations of believers to follow would not look at his tomb with the stone still in place and weep, but would look into the tomb with stone rolled away and rejoice with eternal hope. Joseph’s tomb of death now stands honored as a symbol of life. It stands as a picture of the power of Almighty God. It lives as a portrait of the faithfulness of God. It’s a sign that points to the grace of God. It sits in human history as a guarantee of the final completion of the redemptive work of God.
Joseph’s empty tomb is a finger that points us toward another resurrection to come. We will rise from this sin-scarred, suffering-stained world to a new world with the Son in the center and no sin or suffering anywhere to be found. Joseph’s tomb signifies that there will be a day when there will never again be a need for any tomb of any kind, because death itself will be dead.
Isn’t it amazing that everyone who has ever believed in Jesus has been encouraged by Joseph’s empty tomb? The ordinary act of placing a body in a tomb became the scene of the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened. As he walked up those stairs to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus, Joseph had no idea of the significance of what he was about to do. He acted not because he knew what was about to happen, but because he knew who he has acting for.
What about you? Where is God calling you to the courage of faith? Where is he nudging you to do something simply because you love him? Who knows what extraordinary things he will do with your little act of faith and love.
Joseph of Arimathea had no idea what would result from his courageous act of worshipful love, and we don’t have any idea either of what God will do in us and through us as we act in the courage of faith and with worshipful hearts of love. Our Lord is able to take ordinary responses of faith and do extraordinary things with them, and we must remember that we have all we need in what he has revealed to act in the courage of faith and the worship of love.
This article originally appeared here.