18. Joseph of Arimathea, Quite A Character


By Don Howard

‘Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.’ Matthew 27:57 NKJV

‘Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.’ Mark 15:43 NKJV

‘Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.’ Luke 23:50-52 NKJV

‘After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being 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 the body of Jesus.’ John 19:38 NKJV

Questions For Discussion

1. God often uses unlikely people to complete His plan. Why do you suppose that is?

2. This may seem an incidental fact, but there had to be a tomb for Jesus. We recently worshipped on a day designated as Easter Sunday. It marks the day that our Saviour rose from the grave, conquering it! How different would it be if there had not been a tomb?

3. Remember when Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb (John 11). How do these two incidents relate and what do they say to us now?

4. Joseph was a wealthy man, a prominent leader, a member of the council. He had become a disciple (follower) of Christ at some point.

a. What was he risking to make such a gift available to Jesus?

b. What risks do we take in our lives to follow Christ?

5. In his prominent position, he called upon Pilate to allow him to take the body of Jesus. Can you imagine the fear he must have felt?

Even the public disciples shirked, hid, and denied their connection! Imagine one who had loved in secret now coming forward publicly before the government and all the Jews to proclaim allegiance.

a. Does this remind you of anything in your own life?

b. Are you ever fearful in acting on Christ’s behalf?

6. Why do you suppose that we do not know more about this Joseph? What do you think happened to him after the Resurrection?

7. How do you feel about Joseph? Was he noble? Brave? Important?

8. Note: Joseph didn’t ask someone else to do it. He handled the body, he arranged the interment. Is there a lesson in this for us?

9. Matthew Henry remarks in his commentary that of particular note is the reference to Joseph’s wealth.

‘He was a ‘rich’ man. Christianity is often portrayed as a ‘sacrifice’ but this passage also shows that while we are to do that certainly, there is also a place where we must use those things God grants for His purpose. We are to serve, give, and live with a higher calling than that of the world.’

How can we better honour the things that God gives us?

How ready are you to ‘put yourself out there’ for Christ and His will?

How publicly and devotedly do you serve?

How much do you sacrifice? Build faith in others? Share your gifts?

What else can we take away from this story of the selfless act of a devoted disciple?


"Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

John 14:6