December 18, 2015

Joseph of Arimathea

Luke 23:50-56

A man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man . . . was waiting for the kingdom of God.

—  Luke 23:50-51

At the end of his life, as at the beginning, Jesus was attended to by the upright among God’s people. When Jesus was brought to the temple, he was met by Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:22-38). Now Jesus is buried by Joseph. Like Simeon and Anna, Joseph was in tune with God. Joseph was “good and upright” and was “waiting for the kingdom of God.”

The kingdom of God is a huge, breathtaking reality. The kingdom includes the consolation Simeon was waiting for and the redemption Anna was looking forward to. The kingdom encompasses God’s complete rule, and people waiting for the kingdom were looking forward to the day when wrongs would be set right, injustice would be addressed, and proper order would be restored so that everyone could live in peace and flourish as God intended.

Joseph’s appearance before Pilate shows that the death of Jesus did not extinguish the hope of the kingdom. Instead a man like Joseph, a leader in Jerusalem, was emboldened to show he had sympathy for Jesus, even when everyone else denounced him. This suggests that Jesus’ death is not the end of the story. There is still more to come. Joseph is never called a disciple, and yet he brings hope to those who are attentive and open to the possibility that God is at work in Jesus.

Almighty God, as you provided people to attend to Jesus, grant us your grace to be upright followers anticipating your kingdom. Amen.

About the author — Norman Visser

Norman Visser has served as a pastor of churches in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and South Dakota. He states that while he is “not known for waiting patiently,” he is “working on it.” Norman and his wife, Marcia, have three children.

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