Today's verses are Mark 15:42,43: "And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus." Jesus died at 3 p.m. Jewish custom demanded that all dead bodies be placed in tombs before 6 p.m. which was the beginning of the Sabbath.
A man name Joseph, from the town of Arimathea, was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was wise, respected and influential. Surely he despised the hypocrisy of the trials the previous night and the guilty verdict placed on Jesus by the Sanhedrin. Surely he was embarrassed by the secretive plans laid by his fellow elders in Jesus' death.
Why would this be? Probably because he had become a follower of Jesus. Somewhere along the way, he had come to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. At some point, he had decided to follow Jesus.
Joseph's respected and honored position in the community allowed him access to Pilate. He "took courage" and went to Pilate, asking for Jesus' body. This move was courageous, for publicly it would have been seen as a clear statement of being one of Jesus' followers. It could very well have cost Joseph his life, aligning himself with someone who had just been crucified for a capital offense. But he didn't care. It was time to take a stand.
Joseph wants to bury Jesus in his own tomb, thus fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9: "And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth." I wonder if Joseph was thinking, "I failed publicly to support him while he lived. I will at least now honor and support him in his death."
If someone truly loves Jesus and knows of his mercy, grace and power, he can't remain quiet about his faith forever. At some point, like Joseph of Arimathea, you have to make known publicly what you believe. In the early church, the disciples were being persecuted by this same Sanhedrin. They were told not to speak of Jesus, threatened with beatings, perhaps even losing their lives. What was their answer? Peter said, "...for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).
If you are a follower of Jesus, I pray today you'll have an opportunity to show to another person how much you love Jesus. Perhaps it's a gift you'll give, a kind word spoken, a personal witness verbally shared. I pray you'll have a way to honor the One who has given all of us who believe in him the greatest gift of all: eternal life.
It's impossible to remain a stealth Christian forever.