Apparently today is the saint’s day of Joseph of Arimathea, who I have never really given much thought to, so, challenge accepted.
Arimathea was reputedly ‘a city of the Jews’ and identified By Eusebius as the city of Ramah from the Old Testament where the Prophet Samuel was born. Joseph of Arimathea is later mentioned by William of Malmesbury a 12th century monk and historian as being the founder of a Christian community in England (near Glastonbury) after being sent there from Gaul by the Apostle Philip (the nicest, cleverest and handsomest Apostle in my own humble opinion) in AD 63. Another 13th century legend claims he brought the Holy Grail to England. Joseph was mentioned in all four of the Gospels as a member of the Sanhedrin and follower of Jesus who kept his faith secret for ‘fear of the Jews’ John (19:38). Luke tells us (23:50) that Joseph voted against the actions of the Sanhedrin. Matthew (27:57-60) merely notes his actions regarding the tomb. Only Mark (15:43) recognises the risk to Joseph of his actions and mentions them in his account.
The Sanhedrin is reputed to have originated as the council of seventy elders who were appointed to assist Moses in judging disputes among the Hebrews and must have had some power to be feared as they are also the same council Herod was called before as a young man to answer for misdemeanours. It may be that we can look upon the fear of Joseph with some disdain but it would be better to remember how dangerous and difficult it must have been for Joseph. He was a member of the supreme council, which was at that time actively plotting to kill Jesus, before His Death and Resurrection. Joseph’s support would very probably have meant severe sanctions, if not a danger to his life although I believe this to be unlikely.
But, when the time came Joseph stepped up and proclaimed himself in an unmistakable manner. Without the private tomb, protected by the large rock, the resurrection of our Lord could very well have been called into question. If Jesus had been buried in a common grave, as criminals almost certainly would have been at that time, then his Resurrection would have not been undeniable in any degree. Joseph, despite his fear and lack of public support was allowed an important, pivotal, part in our Lord’s Passion.
We can see from the experience of Joseph of Arimathea that we are all called to serve in different and often inexplicable ways. Joseph gave his support from behind the scenes when open and energetic defiance of the council could very well have undermined the plan of God. Joseph may well have wrestled with his conscience, we’ll never know this side of the rapture, but God used him as he was. So we need to learn from the experience of Joseph that God may have a task for each one of us and it will not be of our own choosing, but it must be met with patience and acceptance. It might be making the tea. It might be drinking the tea. It might be leading a diocese it might be leading a toddler by the hand. We will probably never know what specific task God wants, or wanted, us to do so it falls upon us to carry out each and every task as if that is the one (my lazy bone just started aching).
Don’t worry, don’t fret, The Lord will decide and we will probably never know what we did or how well we did it. As long as we do our best to live as God has instructed us then our task, however difficult or easy, however long or short will get done and that is all that really counts.