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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
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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