Mark 15:43 (NKJV) “43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.”
Let’s think of what happened prior to the courageous request of Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus had allowed Himself to be captured by the betrayal of Judas. The Roman soldiers had mocked and scourged Jesus with something equivalent to a cat o’ nine tails. Then Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead and Pontius Pilate wanted to please the people rather than do what is right.
All this to say, Jesus wasn’t very popular right now couple with the fact the crowd had just hours ago chanted “Crucify Him.” His body was still attached to the cross and the religious leaders wanted to make an example of Jesus so that His followers wouldn’t try to continue Jesus’ ministry. In fact, Peter was so fearful of what would happen to himself, he denied knowing Jesus to a little girl who had exposed him as a follower of Jesus. So, needless to say, it was not a safe time to be a follower of Jesus.
Enter Joseph of Arimathea. Who despite the unpopularity of Jesus and what He stood for, decided to courageously go up to Pontius Pilate and request for the body of Jesus so he could place Him in a grave. Joseph may have thought it was impossible but was willing to put his life on the line since they had just crucified the unpopular Jesus Christ just a few hours earlier. Joseph was going to stand up for his faith when everyone else had backed down. In Joseph’s mind, it was very likely that he could have been killed by making such a request, but make the request he still did.
Joseph was courageous. Now, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather taking action despite your fears. I have no doubt that Joseph feared for his life standing before Pontius Pilate but Joseph took action. He made the request and stood up for his faith. Pontius Pilate granted Joseph his request and released the body of Jesus to him.
Had fear gripped Joseph instead of courage, we would have never heard of Joseph of Arimathea, but the Bible highlights what he did because he chose to take action despite his fears, he chose to be courageous. Courage often begins with one small step forward even when fear is telling you to hold back. Joseph’s first step of courage was to ask permission from Pontius Pilate to move Jesus’ body. His second step of courage was to move Jesus’ body from the cross to the grave while the Roman soldiers and religious leaders were nearby and who could have caused trouble at any given moment. His third act of courage was to seal the tomb and complete the task he set out to do.
Perhaps the most difficult step of being courageous is the first step. But it is also the most rewarding, for after Joseph received permission, the rest was easy in comparison.
Let’s take one step of courage at a time for in so doing, we can tackle mountains that at first seemed impossible!