After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.
Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus’ body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices.
It is ironic that the two men left to care for a Savior’s corpse were Joseph and Nicodemus. Both were wealthy and respected, and neither of them were one of his core twelve disciples and best friends.
Joseph was named a “secret disciple” because he believed and loved the teachings of Jesus. He, however, followed him from a distance; afraid. Nicodemus was an influential Pharisee, one of the religious elite of the Jews—the same group of people who hated Jesus and demanded his execution.
Nicodemus had met Jesus, face-to-face, before. He snuck out and visited Jesus in the darkness of night. Once he entered the home where Jesus was staying and sure that no one had followed him, he said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
When the sun arose again, however, Nicodemus was back into his powerful role, following his peers, and watching silently as they condemned Jesus.
On the day of Jesus death, however, Nicodemus came into the light. Scholars say that the 75 pounds of oil and spices Nicodemus purchased, to wrap Jesus’ dead body in, were worth a fortune.
This was not a normal burial. Nicodemus prepared a royal burial for a king.
Perhaps some of us are like Joseph and Nicodemus. Deep down, we secretly believe. But when it comes to our workplace, friends or family—where people can often be hostile towards Jesus-followers—we go silent. We prefer to follow Jesus in the dark.
I used to do the same. In Armenia, when people asked me why I was working there, I had an immediate reply: humanitarian aid worker. While I did do this kind of work as well, my true mission there was as a Christian worker.
I feared what the highly educated embassy diplomats or wealthy businessmen would think of someone like me—someone who gave their life to follow Christ.
Then one day that changed. I began to follow God in the light. I was no longer being a different person around those who didn’t believe. I needed to be completely myself in order to love and build true relationships with others.
What does that mean?
Now when I am speaking with a friend who does not believe as I do, I don’t edit my life and thoughts. If I feel like God shared something with me on a personal level, I share that. If I see a way that God has intervened in my life, I celebrate it.
If I am praying for a situation or for a person, I tell them that I daily bring their names before God.
I invite people to join me on this journey and promise to remain their friends even if they choose not to follow. My explanation: if I truly care about you as a friend, why wouldn’t I (at least once) tell you about the one thing in my life that brings me peace, love, acceptance and purpose? If I love you, I will mention it.
It took Jesus’ death to bring Joseph and Nicodemus into the light.
This weekend, as we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection, perhaps it is YOUR time as well!
This song helps us to remember that, with God’s help, we can step beyond our comfort zone into the life and purpose we were designed for.
I dedicate this series of devotional writings to my grandfather, Roger Crowell, who passed away on March 31. He was the ultimate lover of devotional books. He had an unbreakable habit of waking up every morning and connecting with God through the writings of others.
Pa, I am glad you are now constantly in His presence.
Love, Your granddaughter — Olivia Puccini