The Rich, Secret Disciple: Luke 23:50-56

Focus Passage: Luke 23:50-56 (CEV)

50-51 There was a man named Joseph, who was from Arimathea in Judea. Joseph was a good and honest man, and he was eager for God’s kingdom to come. He was also a member of the council, but he did not agree with what they had decided.

52 Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in fine cloth. Then he put it in a tomb that had been cut out of solid rock and had never been used. 54 It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb. 56 Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands.

Read Luke 23:50-56 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

When we read the gospels, we may get the impression that every one of the religious leaders were completely opposed to Jesus. We see a picture of a corrupt religious system, and we may begin to believe that everyone within this system was as corrupt as it was.

However, several of the gospel writers draw our attention onto someone who doesn’t fit our stereotype during the final hours of the day Jesus died. Luke describes Joseph of Arimathea as “a good and honest man, and he was eager for God’s kingdom to come. He was also a member of the council, but he did not agree with what they had decided.” (v. 50-51)

When we read about the Jewish leader’s decisions against Jesus, we may think these were all unanimous decisions, but according to Luke, Joseph was at least one person who stood apart from the stereotype of Jesus-hate.

Mark describes Joseph in a similar way by saying he “was a highly respected member of the Jewish council, and he was also waiting for God’s kingdom to come” and he “was brave enough to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus.” (Mark 15:43)

Matthew describes Joseph as “a rich disciple” who asked for Jesus’ body. (Matthew 27:57-58)

John describes Joseph simply one of Jesus’ secret disciples. (John 19:38)

While Joseph was hesitant about going public with his belief in Jesus during Jesus’ ministry, following Jesus’ death, he gained the courage to come forward with a significant gift. Joseph gave Jesus his tomb.

It is uncertain if Joseph knew about Jesus’ prediction about rising on the third day, but even if the tomb was only a temporary resting place for Jesus, this makes Joseph’s gift no less significant.

Joseph’s position and secret belief in Jesus is an example of God setting the stage perfectly for what He wanted to do. Crucifixion victims were not cared for following their deaths, and none were given any respect. Some were cremated, others buried in shallow graves. Some were tossed into mass graves, while others were simply thrown to the dogs to eat.

None of these typical responses was part of God’s plan, so I believe this is why He placed a rich, secret disciple on the council. Joseph’s rank within the corrupt religious system is a testament to God’s power and ability to place us in exactly the right position. Joseph was high enough that he could speak directly to Pilate, and he was wealthy enough to have purchased a tomb for when he ultimately would die. Joseph was also genuinely interested in God’s kingdom coming, and he lived his life in a good, honest, and genuine way.

Reading about Joseph’s position and perspective teaches me that regardless of where I am placed by God, He has a plan for where I am currently. I might not always understand why I am where I am, but it is always with a purpose. I may need to grow personally. There may be someone who I need to help. Regardless of His reasons, God is busy working behind the scenes, placing us in the places and roles He created for us so that His Kingdom will grow, and lives will be saved.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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