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One of the most courageous actions recorded in Scripture is found as Joseph of Arimathea going to ask for the body of Jesus. It does not take much imagination to understand what Joseph must have been thinking when he considered going to Pilate. He must have known he would lose his place on the Sanhedrin and in society by doing that. He had to have considered the fact that connecting himself to a condemned criminal might cost him his life as well. 

To be honest, I find the lack of courage one of my greatest character flaws. So I am drawn to this event, praying that God will rub some of Joseph’s courage off on me.

Joseph’s act is displayed for us is in Luke 23:50-53

“Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.” 


First, Joseph must have carried out this act in Humility.
We might compare his behavior with that of Peter the night before. Peter boasted to the Lord that he was ready to go with him to prison or death. And Peter did show amazing bravado that night. He followed those who arrested Jesus right into the High Priest’s court. Can you imagine doing that? I can’t. He even sat down around a fire with the servants of the High Priest. But Jesus told Simon who he was facing on this night, and who it is that may attack your courage. “Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat.” I think it is clear that Joseph did not boast to Caiaphas or Pilate that he was going to do this thing. He just went and asked.

I think he must have acted with Resignation.
Joseph could not have known what consequences he would face by going to Pilate and then going among the soldiers who hung Jesus on the cross. He had to have been willing to face them to have carried this out.

Joseph was motivated some by his Expectation.
The Bible says he was expecting the kingdom of God. I don’t know what Joseph understood of the kingdom of God, but he must have had a sense that God himself was involved in this matter. Luke does not tell us that anyone else helped Joseph take his body down. But John does. Do you know who was with him? It was Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night in John 3. It was Nicodemus whom Jesus told about being born again. It was Nicodemus who may have understood that Jesus was not just of this world.

And I believe he had to have some Conviction.
I don’t know how much Joseph believed then or even later about Jesus. But he had to believe enough to risk his life.

Finally, I think some of Joseph’s courage may have come from Devotion.
I don’t think you can picture that scene without recognizing Joseph’s respect for Jesus. And I suspect it took more than respect for him to go through the ranks to speak to the highest ranking officer in Roman Syria. I believe he likely had a sense that Jesus had come from God. Nicodemus certainly did, as others may have. Nicodemus said, “We know that you are a teacher come from God. For no one could perform these signs if God were not with him.” And I suspect courage born in my heart will come from the realization that God is God, and devotion to Jesus His Son as Lord.

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Comment by Malva Birch on June 7, 2020 at 9:45am

David, thank you for this. I've read these verses so many times, but never really focused on the people and what went on in their hearts and minds. This is very inspiring.

Lord God, You are the God of courage. Please give each one of us the courage we need to be obedient to You and to honor You in this world that is becoming more and more hostile to You. Please strengthen us and give us Your peace.You are greater than anything and anyone. Let Your joy be our strength. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray, amen.

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