The New Testament speaks of Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus who stand out, while the multitudes were baffled by the crucifixion of Jesus and nearly all the disciples fled the scene for their safety. They took courage to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus to which Pilate obliged.
Matthew mentions that Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy man, and a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:57); Mark remarks him as a respected member of the council, who was also himself seeking the Kingdom of God, (Mark 15:43); Luke points that out he ‘had not consented to their decision and action’ about Jesus, (Luke 23:51) while John calls him a secret disciple of Jesus (19:38).
We also read that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish ruling body that condemned Jesus. During his earlier visit to Jesus in the night, Jesus enlightened him about being born again (John 3:3). While some Pharisees and priests were scheming to arrest Jesus, Nicodemus defended Him (John 7). Finally, he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, to apply on the body of Jesus.
Rearing Foresight for the Kingdom
Though Joseph of Arimathea was part of the council that sentenced Jesus to death, he did not consent to the unjust verdict. Yes, he was not influenced by the popular mindset & worldview of his time.
Instead, he was governed by his inner conviction. Having believed in the Kingdom of God, he was waiting for it earnestly. “Thy Kingdom come,” must have been his breath. This foresight focused his acts to remain as a kingdom citizen.
Even for us, being kingdom-minded is crucial to all that we dream and do. This Kingdom, that Jesus inaugurated keeps growing towards full realisation, in the hearts of the believers of every tribe, tongue, and nation as they submit to His authority. So, constant willful submission of our lives and fervent supplication that many would submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ are the way forward for us.
Contrarily, we get hooked to the affairs of this world – money, career, success, etc. We must get ourselves off the hook to lead a Kingdom-glorifying life.
This focus and foresight will realign our aspirations in this world and set us right on our faith journey like Joseph, no matter what chaos happens around us .
Risking Their Reputation
While Joseph was called a disciple of Jesus, Nicodemus too had begun following Jesus. The disciples who were ‘secret’ till the crucifixion of Jesus emerged publicly for an odd reason as others would call it. Because they both dared to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus who was convicted of treason and insurrection to which Pilate obliged.
Undeniably, it was their kingdom-mindedness that emboldened them to place that request before Pilate. By doing this, they risked their reputation in order to give Jesus what was due to Him – “a royal burial” – well knowing that it was against the usual practice of discarding a criminal’s body into an empty grave or under a pile of rocks. To exalt Jesus, we may need to stoop down like Joseph and Nicodemus who did not feel ashamed or uncomfortable of their faith in Jesus despite their status and external identity.
Risking One’s Own Resources
We have to pay the cost when we desire to remain Kingdom-focused. While Joseph spared his own tomb, Nicodemus brought spices to apply on Jesus’ body. When one pound is the usual quantity of spice for a body, Nicodemus’ extravagant 75-pounds exhibits his deep love for Jesus. He wanted to give Jesus a kingly burial. Nicodemus believed that Jesus was more precious than all that he had which eventually got translated into a large volume of spices he brought for Jesus.
Readiness to part with valuable treasures and time for Jesus’ sake amplifies what Jesus means to us. Today, it is His Body, the Church is faced with innumerable threats, troubles, and persecution in the global arena. Besides this, any sort of indifference to the economic inequality within the Body of Christ is no less than injustice. The best thing we can do for Jesus will be to use our wealth, time, talents, etc., joyfully and voluntarily as we observe this Lenten season (Matt. 25:40).