The Most Unlikely of Characters

The Most Unlikely of Characters

Mark 15: 43

“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, cam and boldly went in to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.”


                Why would we say that Joseph is the most unlikely of characters? Well due to the way that the Bible describes him as being a prominent member of the Sanhedrin would defiantly qualify him as an unlikely character to be taking part in the burial of Jesus. But let’s back up and see why it is so unusual for him to be taking part with anything to do with Jesus.

                If we go back to Mark, chapter 14, when Jesus has been arrested after being betrayed by one of his own disciples, Judas, we see that he is taken in front of a group to be judged. This is the mock trial of Jesus. He is taken in front of the Sanhedrin, the group that Joseph of Arimathea was a part of, though it is unlikely he took part in this trial. But none the less he was a “prominent member of this group”. But when Jesus is taken in front of them they hold a fake trial to get Jesus to blasphemy God in some sort of way so that they can get the Roman officials to kill him, that way Jesus would be out of the way for Passover week. During this false trial Jesus does admit to being the Messiah by Mark’s account and even says that the members of the Sanhedrin will see the “Son of man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” This sentence will enrage the leader of the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas, so much that he will rip his clothes in half at the sound of it. So just to make the picture of the Sanhedrin a little more clearly, they were pretty much like the Jewish Supreme Court. They didn’t however possess the power to sentence anyone to death; that had to be done by a Roman official, they just needed the evidence they wanted. These people were not very big fans of Jesus and when you hear Sanhedrin you usually wouldn’t think of someone who cared enough about Jesus to be willing to take his dead body and burry it. But to that is exactly what Joseph of Arimathea did. He went to someone higher than himself, Pilate, the Roman official, and asked to have the body of Jesus, the man that the Sanhedrin’s and the people of Jerusalem had just shouted to be killed.

                So what do we need to take away from this act by Joseph of Arimathea? Well first I think that it needs to be pointed out that sometimes the most unlikely of people that you think will get saved and have a relationship with Christ are the ones that serve him the most boldly. It took someone with guts to go and ask for the body of a hated man, especially someone who could have easily sentenced him to death for saying he was a part of what Jesus was about. That is why he is the most unlikely character, because everything in society was telling Joseph that he didn’t need to have anything to do with Jesus, but the Holy Spirit had opened his heart and it says that Joseph was “looking forward to the kingdom of God”. God was moving in this man’s life and I believe that his story is in here for a reason. We should take note that God can be moving in anyone’s heart, drawing them to himself.

                Second notice that Joseph was not like the rest of the disciples. He was a man of high regard.  He was a respected man in the community. The others were fisherman, tax collectors and zealots. To be honest the group that was closest to Jesus would have been considered the low lifes of Jesus’ day and time. But Joseph on the other hand would have had esteem and a little bit of power. Well why is this a big deal? Because it just promotes the fact that Jesus came for everyone even more.  Jesus is not just the Savior for the down and out, or the bottom feeders, but he is also the God of the highly qualified, high society and high ranking. As we look to this week leading up to Easter let’s be reminded that God may be working in the most unusual of people, we never know. And also, let us be conscious that Jesus came to die for everyone’s sins. The rich and poor, the nice and mean, and the slums of society and the leaders of society.