“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” (Luke 23:50-56)
If Joseph had not asked for the body, it would have been thrown in the city dump (the valley of Hinnom) as that of a common criminal. That’s the grim reality of Paul’s phrase, “He made himself nothing.”
But the close of Luke’s account seems to parallel its opening chapter, with the reminder of simple, godly devotion within the family of Israel. Joseph of Arimathea is a Sanhedrin member who did not agree with Jesus’ conviction by the official council and he as “a good and upright man,” one who “was waiting for the kingdom of God.” Devout figures surround Jesus both at his birth and at his death.
Those who are righteous and seek God respond to Jesus and look forward to what he will bring. As the bumper sticker has it: “Wise men still seek him.”
And so Joseph’s kindness fulfils Deuteronomy 21:22-23: Jesus is not “buried” among thieves in dishonour.
The “Day of Preparation” is Friday, and that meant that Sabbath was close. The women who “watched” as Jesus died also watch as he is buried, checking the spot, planning on a final act of devotion in anointing his body when Sabbath is done.
There’s such an air of quiet, gracious kindness both from Joseph and from this group of faithful followers, after the storm has broken upon them.
Jesus has been laid to rest in honour. And that’s the end of it.