He was a well respected member of the community, wealthy beyond most standards and a leader in the Sanhedrin. A native of Arimathea, he now called home Jerusalem. He undoubtedly knew that his life was soon coming to an end, because he had a tomb waiting for his arrival. He and Nicodemus were followers of Jesus and believed Him to be the long awaited Messiah. Because of tensions amongst the leaders of the Sanhedrin and the popularity of Jesus, they followed him in secret.
Joseph, being witness to the death by crucifixion of Jesus, boldly approached Pilate and asked for the body so he could give it a proper burial. Pilate consented even though most criminals were left to rot on the cross and be devoured by predators and birds of prey. It was meant to serve as a lesson to those who would think to disobey Roman law.
Joseph and Nicodemus carried the body to the tomb and prepared it with 75 pounds of spices that Nicodemus donated. This in itself was a symbol of great wealth. They were, after all, burying a mighty King – the Son of God.
Joseph knew that he was defying Mosaic law by touching a corpse, but he did so with complete confidence. He was taking a huge risk by doing this act, but he was honoring a fallen soldier who had given His life for the salvation of the world..
May we have the same honor and courage for our Christ – when we are faced with persecution because of Him – when we need to stand up for our beliefs – when our lives depend on it. Joseph came out of hiding to bury His Savior.
On the third day, Jesus conquered death by coming back to life and changing the world forever.