Joseph of Arimethea
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Now my bible topic today is on - Joseph of Arimathea.
He only appears in the Bible at the crucifixion of Jesus. He is a real interesting person and he obviously became a disciple of Jesus. His story is mentioned in all 4 gospels: in Matthew 27:57, in Mark 15:43, in Luke 25:31 and also in John 19:38. By the way, the town of Arimathea was located about 5 miles north of Jerusalem. Let’s listen to the Biblical story about Joseph of Arimathea in Mark, chapter 15, starting at verse 43:
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Did you ever wonder why the Roman guards broke the legs of the two criminal who were being crucified with Jesus? And why there were planning on breaking the bones of Jesus also? I wondered about this since it was the Roman custom to leave the dead victims on the cross for days as an example to everyone who dared to defy Roman rule? And to further humiliate the victims and their families, the Romans would leave the naked bodies on the crosses to rot and birds of prey, mice and rats and other scavenges would further tear at the bodies.
The reason the Roman guards came to break the legs of Jesus and the two criminals is due to this man Joseph of Arimathea. He and other prominent Jews were concerned about the scandal of having naked, dead bodies hang on the cross during the Sabbath especially since the Jewish Passover Holidays had just past and there were lots of visitors in Jerusalem.
So as soon as Jesus had died, Joseph boldly goes to Pontius Pilate and leads a group of prominent Jews with him, including Nicodemus (who was the one who had visited Jesus secretly at nighttime just a few days before his crucifixion.)
Joseph probably waited until Jesus had died because - I am sure he was like many others who wanted to see what Jesus would do. Would he come down from the cross? Would he reveal his glory? Would he prove that He was the Son of God?
So as soon as Jesus died, Joseph and this group of prominent Jews, most of whom if not all of them were secret disciples of Jesus, to Pontius Pilate and ask and beg for the body of Jesus.
Of course by doing this noble, brave and honorable act, these prominent men were no longer secret disciples, were they? But on the other hand, now that Jesus was dead, their danger was lessened considerably. That is until their personal danger increased again when Jesus rose from the dead and the growth of Christianity starts in real earnest and then continued to be a real headache to the Jewish leaders.
Note that the other two criminals also benefited by this action of Joseph – their painful ordeal was shorten and they and their families did not suffer the additional humiliation of their bodies being left on the crosses to rot. For it is presumed that their bodies were buried also in a cemetery by some of those other prominent men.
Now did you ever wonder also how all the information about the illegal trial of Jesus that is mentioned in the New Testament Gospels was acquired by the writers of the Gospels since his disciples were not permitted at the trial of Jesus? And even if the disciples could have attended his nightly trial, they were too scared to attend. They had all scattered.
Well the answer is, that the apostles got probably got all this detailed information about the trial of Jesus from Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and other prominent Jews on the council (that is on the Sanhedrin) who became believers in Jesus.
Did you know also that Joseph presumably Nicodemus did not agree with the Sanhedrin’s decision to seek the death of Jesus by the Romans. And since it mentions here about these other prominent Jews, we can presume that some of these men were also on the Sanhedrin and did not agree with the death sentence of this good prophet, Jesus of Nazareth.
Now the Bible says that Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man. And we know that he was rich by the fact that his personal family tomb that he had prepared but had not yet been used by anyone - was located in a garden, not in a public cemetery and it was a large tomb cut out of solid rock. It was big enough to hold several women and several men who came to see the empty tomb on Sunday. And we also know that since the tomb was located close to Jerusalem, the real estate value of that land was more expensive than property located farther from the city. The tomb fortunately for Joseph and Nicodemus was also not too far from Golgatha because both men and their helpers had to prepare the body of Jesus before the sunset on that Sabbath Preparation Day.
This also fulfilled prophesy that while Jesus was born into humble circumstances, he was buried with the rich (see Isaiah 53:9). And after all, Jesus is the richest man in the Universe. He owns all of the real estate in the universe.
So I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, a just man, a good man and a well known counselor.
Now since we have some time, I combined all four Gospel accounts of Joseph of Arimathea into one continous story in proper time sequence. Because while each Gospel account is similar, each Gospel account gives different details about Joseph of Arimethea.
Now Peter was brave enough to enter into the courtyard of the high priest where Jesus was being tried at nighttime. And it is suspected that either Joseph or Nicodemus let him in through the gate.
Now some information about the trial may have come from the apostle John whose family seems to have had influential contacts in Jerusalem. And maybe John was in the courtyard of the high priest since he was also brave enough to be at the crucifixion of Jesus or maybe his family connections helped him to be brave. John and his family may also have been one of the more richer disciples along with Peter since John was chosen to take care of the mother of Jesus.
But most likely it was Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and other prominent Jews who provided all the details of the trial of Jesus.
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Now when Jesus died, it was on a Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath, specifically before a special Holiday Sabbath).
The two criminals, crucified with Jesus were still alive. So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, along with some other Jews who did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, went and they asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.
Joseph was from the city of Arimathea, a city of the Jews. He was also a prominent member of the Council (that is the Sanhedrin). He was a counselor and a good and just man. Joseph was at the illegal trial of Jesus and he had not agreed with the evil deed of the Council which had petitioned Pilate to crucify Jesus.
Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. For Joseph had himself been waiting for the kingdom of God, that is looking for the Messiah to come because he, along with so many others Jews, was aware of Daniel’s prophesies that predicted that is was time for the Messiah to appear.
Then Joseph of Arimathea took some other Jews with him (including Nicodemus and apparently other prominent Jews) and went boldly to Pilate and asked and begged for Jesus’ body. Now Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. Jesus has died early because he was close to death from his scourging alone. He even needed help to carry his cross to Golgotha. So Pilate, summoning the centurion, asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. We can be sure the Centurion promised Pilate that he would make sure that Jesus was dead before he handed his body over to the Jews.
The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it (that is John the Apostle) has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
So with Pilate’s permission, Joseph, accompanied by Nicodemus came to take the body away to be placed in a tomb cut out of rock. Joseph has bought some linen cloth and strips of linen, to wrap the body in.
He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus with the help of the others Jews brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing between 75 and 100 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. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden nearby, and in the garden a new tomb on the northeast side of the hill cut out of rock, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, that group of prominent Jews, who had hoped in Jesus, laid Jesus there.
Then Joseph rolled a large stone downhill against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses and some of the other women saw where Jesus was laid. These women went home and also prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
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Fulfillment of prophesy. Jesus was born into humble circumstances but was bury with the rich.