& Nico Duo
Joseph of Arimathea was the man who asked Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus. Who was this bold fellow?
Joseph was a rich man (Matthew 27:57) from the insignificant town of Arimathea. He was from a small town but made it big. What line of business was he in? The Bible does not say. His business is none of our business.
But we know that he became a member
of the Council (Luke 23:50, Mark 15:43), the Sanhedrin which arrested
Jesus and handed him over to the Romans to be crucified. Should he be on our Boo List
then? No, for Luke tells us
he was a “good and upright man who had not consented to their (Sanhedrin)
decision and action” against Jesus (23:50, 51).
Why did he ask Pilate for Jesus’
body? Was he an
undertaker? Again, no. He was a disciple of Jesus (Matt
27:57), “but secretly, because he feared the Jews” (John 19:38). Then why did he suddenly go
“boldly” to Pilate (Mark 15:43) to ask for Jesus’ body and openly take it
down and bury it? Wouldn’t
that identify him as Jesus’ disciple at a time when the disciples were
probably being hunted down?
Wasn’t he afraid anymore?
Hmmm, I wonder on what grounds he
asked for Jesus’ body. How
did he get quick access to Pilate?
Was it because Pilate knew him as “a prominent member of the
Council” (Mark 15:43)? Was
that why Pilate released the body to him?
When Joe went to Pilate, it was getting dark (Matt 27:57, Mark 15:42). Pilate summoned the centurion overseeing the crucifixions, and verified that Jesus was in fact dead. After getting Pilate’s permission, Joseph stopped somewhere and “bought some linen cloth” (Mark 15:46). After all this, wouldn’t it be dark by then? Wow, buying the cloth must have taken some doing, for all shops closed at sunset when the Sabbath started.
So Joe went out in the dark to find
a corpse. Scary, wasn’t
it? The body was still on the
cross. How do we know
this? Because Mark 15:46 and
Luke 23:53 record that Joseph “took down the body”. But how did Joe get the body down
from the cross, in the dark, alone?
So he wasn’t alone was he?
Who helped him?
Would you believe it was Nicodemus
(John 19:39), the Sanhedrin member who secretly came to Jesus at night
(John 3:2) because he was afraid to be seen with Jesus? Now here was Nicodemus, helping to
bring down the cross and Jesus’ body, getting blood on his hands and
perhaps his clothes, and running the risk of becoming known as Jesus’
disciple. What came over
Nicodemus and took away his fear?
Wait, does the Bible say Joe and
Nico brought down the cross?
No. But consider how
difficult it would have been to climb up (they would have needed a ladder)
to the height of Jesus’ nailed hands to extract 22 cm. nails driven right
in, to carry the weight of Jesus.
If a nail was extracted from one arm, the body would fall and swing
wildly and its whole weight would hang on one nail, tearing the
flesh. Would the two
disciples want such indignities to happen to their Master? Would you? Or would you bring down the cross
gently, and then extract the nails?
Did Nicodemus just happen to pass by
when Joe came to get Jesus’ body?
No way. Why? Because “Nicodemus brought a
mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds” of it (John
19:39). Would you carry
around seventy-five pounds of funeral materials for fun, at night? Plus nail-extracting tools and
torches? So did Joe and Nico
pre-plan the whole operation?
Now, Nicodemus was never called
Nicodemus of some place, was he?
So why “Joseph of Arimathea”? Was it to differentiate this
Joseph from the other Joseph in the Gospels: Joseph of Bethlehem, who later
moved to Nazareth?
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus of
Somewhere, what brave men and dedicated disciples they were. When all the other disciples were
crushed by the “defeat” of Jesus and cowered in fear, they saw his victory
and lost their fear.
Dr John Lim spoke on the
topic, “How Strong Faith Operates” based on the experience of the official
in John 4:43-54. Strong faith operates when the following is put into action:
Hearing the Word
Believing the Word
Obeying the Word
Resting in the Word
And last, but not least,
“Focusing on the Object of Faith,” Jesus Christ.
Dr Ng Peh Cheng was the
Chapel speaker on 20 October.
“Calling & Work
Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church, 4 Bishan St. 13
Dr Bruce Milne, a Scot, was
senior minister of First Baptist Church, Vancouver, Canada, and was
formerly lecturer in Biblical and Historical Theology at Spurgeon's
College, London. He has
served with the church in East Africa and the UK, and has written a number
of books and articles on biblical and theological subjects, including "The
Message of John" in IVP's "The Bible Speaks Today" series and "Know the
Truth - A Handbook
. For registration and details, please contact us at tel. 63538071 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Blessed Birthday
Mrs Ng Soh
Ms Lee Siew
Dr Tan Poh
Mdm Tey Lay
Mr Andy Aw 24/10
Dr Lee Chien