Lenten Devotional: Good Friday
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are not heroic figures in the Gospel of John. They are bit players, really. Joseph has been too afraid to be out as a disciple. Nicodemus first met Jesus at night, when none of his friends would see him. You would not describe them as devoted or courageous. Yet here they are in a pivotal moment after Jesus’ death. Jesus’ disciples have fled, have abandoned him in his hour of need. So these two men, heretofore only tangential to Jesus’ ministry, show up.
Jesus’ death motivates them to come out of the shadows and into the light. They demonstrate their faith by caring for Jesus in his moment of absolute vulnerability. Just as Mary cradled her infant son, Joseph and Nicodemus care for his deceased body. They honor him and make sure he has a holy burial.
There are so many ways to be faithful. Some can follow Jesus for years. Others may avoid Jesus like the plague their whole lives, but have a profound encounter of faith before their deaths. We never run out of chances to become faithful. Jesus invites us over and over again into a deeper walk with him. Where are you on your journey of faith? How is Jesus inviting you to follow him more deeply?