Conversations - Joseph of Arimathea
Continuing his series of reflections, John Rackley changes tack by not speaking for Joseph of Arimathea, but about him.
Simon of Cyrene
The Nameless Lover
Up to this point in this series I have attempted to enter the experience of some of the people who were involved in the death of Jesus. I am not going to speak for Joseph of Arimathea. I want to speak about him. He puzzles me. He challenges me.
Joseph of Arimathaea Seeks Pilate to Beg Permission to Remove the Body of Jesus - James Tissot / Wikimedia Commons
I am puzzled that he made no protest when the Council called by Caiaphas charged Jesus with blasphemy. If he was such an upright man why didn’t he speak up? Why could he go boldly to Pilate for the body of Jesus but not be equally courageous among his fellow believers?
It must have been awful to realise he was letting Jesus down.
So he challenges me. In the other gospels we are told he was disciple of Jesus. But one that kept it all a secret. I choose to call him a disciple of the dusk. In other words someone who keeps their faith hidden and only let's it emerge when it is safe to do so.
Our society today encourages this sort f discipleship. How many disciples are hidden in the professions, business community, political parties, worlds of education and entertainment but keep it under wraps because it just is not ‘cool’ to be too obvious about your faith there?
But let’s not leave it there. It can be hard to be Christian about life in our families; among our friends at the club; or with people along the street.
A Christian who goes public is not always welcome.
But as we consider the hour of our Lord’s dying let us are reminded that this was no death in the dusk. It was a public execution. He is exposed – all of his life, faith; all that he had said and did was on public view.
His disciples were nowhere to be seen for like many since they could not cope with public exposure. They would be encouraged in this by those who wanted to keep the status quo. So they became disciples in the dusk.
One morning soon after - God showed them he had other ideas. I dare to hope that Joseph eventually became a disciple of the dawn. The dawn of God’s grace rising with healing for all people.
‘As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith …on his cross all that can keep you from God has been set aside….its power is false ….
Lord help us believe this even when our faith hides in the dusk.
Paul the Messenger of God to people like us writing within a few years of the end of the human life of Christ.
John Rackley is a Baptist minister who blogs at windingquest.wordpress.com
Further conversations can be found on his blog