Joseph of Arimathea…was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took [Jesus’] body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen….At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb…they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had a lot in common. Both were members of the Sanhedrin—the religious governing body that had just played a role in crucifying Jesus (see Mark 14:53-65). Both men, most scholars agree, were likely very wealthy. And both men were secret followers of Jesus…up until Good Friday, that is.
Something about Jesus’s death compelled these two men to go public with their faith, specifically by giving Jesus a proper burial.
As pastor Daniel Darling explains in his book, The Characters of Easter, “Typically a criminal would be dumped into an empty grave or pauper’s field, buried ignominiously under a pile of rocks.” But Nicodemus and Joseph refused to allow Jesus to suffer that fate. While their fellow members of the Sanhedrin may have killed Jesus like a criminal, these men were intent on burying Jesus like a king.
And they made at least three enormous sacrifices to do so.
First, money. Joseph gave up his costly tomb (see Matthew 27:60) and Nicodemus offered “seventy-five pounds” of “myrrh and aloes” for embalming, which one scholar says would have cost “an extraordinary amount.”
Second, these men sacrificed their priorities. As Ken Costa points out in his book, Joseph of Arimathea, Joseph and Nicodemus “fully knew the embalming” of Jesus “would make them ritually impure at the start of the Passover feast.” This was an unthinkable act for religious professionals used to adhering to the letter of the law! And yet they prioritized honoring Christ above honoring the traditions of their professions.
Finally, by burying Jesus, Joseph and Nicodemus would have seriously risked their reputations. Their peers had just murdered Jesus! And here they were honoring him. At a minimum, this act would have cost them their stature. But it could have cost them their jobs—maybe even their lives.
The faith of Joseph and Nicodemus cost them a lot. How much is your Christianity costing you? If your honest answer is “not much,” I pray that the example of these two men would inspire you to be even bolder for Christ in your workplace today.
That could take a lot of different shapes. Here’s just one I would challenge you with this morning: Acknowledge your faith in Christ to one co-worker who may not know you’re a Christian. In doing so, you’ll be paying a small tribute to Joseph and Nicodemus. But more importantly, you’ll be offering up a small display of worship to the One who gave up everything for you and me!