38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus have several things in common. According to the other gospels, both are part of the Jewish counsel, likely the Sanhedrin. Both were following Jesus secretly, afraid that the Jews might harm them somehow if they found out about their devotion to Jesus. And, both of these men were so changed by Jesus’ death that they boldly chose to take responsibility for burying Jesus.
We saw Nicodemus earlier in this book. In chapter 3, he came to Jesus by night to ask him some questions about his identity. In 7:50, Nicodemus spoke up in the counsel demanding that the Jews give Jesus a fair trial before condemning him. Now, we see Nicodemus bringing a large amount of valuable spices to be used in the wrapping of Jesus’ body for burial.
Joseph of arimathea is someone we see in all four gospels, but we know very little about him. He was from a town about twenty miles or so away from Jerusalem. He was wealthy. And he was actually the owner of the tomb in which Jesus was placed. Joseph actually had the courage to stand before Pilate and ask him for the right to bury Jesus’ body instead of having Jesus thrown in the common grave of the criminals.
Both Joseph and Nicodemus were clearly changed by what they saw in Jesus’ suffering and death. Before Jesus’ death, these two men were afraid to allow anyone to know that they were following Jesus. Now they step out of the shadows and declare their loyalty. Even though Jesus is dead. Even though it looks like the Jews have won, Joseph and Nicodemus stand up and are counted as followers of the man who so recently died on the cross.
We want to learn from the example of these two. No longer is it acceptable to follow Jesus from the shadows. Those who truly know Jesus are willing to stand up and be counted. If you are a believer, no one should have to wonder where your loyalties lie. Allow the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus to make you more bold to follow him and to obey his commands in front of a hostile world.