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Joseph of Arimathea


The Romans did not bury the dead body of the crucified criminals. They would leave the bodies on the ground and let animals and birds eat them. The Jewish law demanded the burial of the body on the same day (Deut 21:22-23). So, special permission was necessary from Pilate to bury the body of Jesus. Since the male disciples of Jesus were afraid of the soldiers, they were hiding and could not undertake the burial of Jesus. They also had no money to buy a burial ground, and the spices necessary for embalming the body of Jesus. Since Jesus was from Galilee and the disciples were hiding, they could not afford to pay for a fitting burial within a few hours. Two secret friends of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus boldly emerged to take leadership at the appropriate time and offered generous contributions.

Joseph of Arimathea was a respected member of the Sanhedrin who was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He boldly went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus for burial before sunset (Mk 15:43) and the governor gave him due permission. Joseph contributed his valuable tomb which no one had as yet used, and buried Jesus there. “Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb” (Mk 15:46).

“Joseph of Arimathea, distinguished member of the council, who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God, came and courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mk 15:43). Joseph of Arimathea gave his own valuable tomb in which no one was buried before, for the burial of Jesus. That could help to prove the resurrection of Jesus. If any remains of a dead body were found in the tomb after the resurrection of Jesus, that could cause doubts on his resurrection. Joseph and Nicodemus took the body and bound it in linen cloths with the spices according to the Jewish custom and buried in the tomb. They did these in a hurry because they had to do everything between 3:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. on Friday before the start of the Passover Sabbath. “Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed” (Mt 27:60).


Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did not support Jesus in public before his crucifixion, to keep their membership in the Sanhedrin and save their reputation among the Jewish leaders. Often, we fail to help a person in need when alive. However, the timely contributions of these two people are praiseworthy. Let us never miss an opportunity to do timely service to others in need.

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