Joe and Nick…

by DanWolgemuth on April 22, 2019

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So, he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So, they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So, because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38–42, ESV)

Joe had a bit part. A passing mention, a few verses, a single day to contribute.

While those closest to Jesus were paralyzed or immobilized or frozen or disbursed, Joe did, what only Joe could do.

He acted boldly, wisely, prophetically, thoughtfully.

Only a few hours remained before Sabbath began, and so every minute mattered.

The political implications were complicated and risky. Joe was part of an elite group. The Sanhedrin. Seventy-one rabbis who shouldered the judicial authority and responsibilities that ultimately condemned Jesus. Joe dissented. He resisted the onslaught of peer pressure, but it wasn’t enough. The wave of outrageous condemnation prevailed. The decision drove nails, not only through flesh, but through justice.

Now what? Jesus, His dead body still hanging on a cross. The powerless surrounded him without solutions. Without energy. Without influence or resources.

In that moment, in the depth of unspeakable grief, Joe acted. He did the right next thing. He crossed the line. He rolled the political dice.

He wasn’t about to let Jesus hang on a cross. His dead body wasn’t enough to extinguish the righteous compulsion of his soul… and so he acted, and so he asked.

He needed permission. He asked for the authority to remove Jesus’ body from the public humiliation of the cross. To bury Him. In a respectable tomb. An unused tomb. His family tomb.

There would be fallout. Politically, professionally, personally.

His focus was on Jesus. His dead body. Lifeless. His lungs breathless. His skin cold and rigid.

He lowered Jesus from the cross and wrapped Him in a linen shroud. Nick, a fellow griever and bit player, who himself had appeared earlier in the unfolding story, joined him in a plan of action. A plan that propelled them both to do the next right and righteous thing on behalf of the man they loved, admired and indeed, worshipped.

Burial blankets, spices and ointments weighing 75 pounds! Grief propelled both of these men to action. To sacrifice. To profound steps of obedience. They weren’t about to let the story end on a cross.

They invested every last cent of their reputation to make certain that dignity washed over the catastrophic miscarriage of justice. Even at His death, they cast their ballot for Jesus.

Did they know? Did they have more faith than the others?

I don’t know, but what I know is that while fear paralyzed those closest to Jesus, it did something very different for these men.

Even in the darkest hour of human existence, Joe and Nick acted. They moved. They did the next right thing, without knowing what would be next.

And in a fallen and sinful and evil world… this is what Christ followers do. Against the press of public opinion, they do what is right and appropriate and holy. Today. Now. Without a clear line of sight to tomorrow.

While He was lifeless, they obeyed. Before He breathed again, they acted.

Bit parts, but big impact. The right next thing.

Even before hope returns. A step of obedience. An act of worship.

A lesson for the ages. Joe and Nick.

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