Q. Who was Joseph of Arimathea and why did they gave him Jesus’ body?
A. Joseph of Arimathea (a city of the Jews, meaning “a lion dead to the LORD”) appeared in all four gospels:
• Mt 27:57-60 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.
• Mk 15:43, 45-46 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. … And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
• Lk 23:50-53 And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain.
• Jn 19:38-40 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
We know a few facts about him:
• He was rich;
• He was a member of the Council, the Sanhedrin;
• He became a disciple of Jesus, a secret one for fear of the Jews; this is like some members of the Communist Party in China becoming Christians in secret;
• He was a good and righteous man;
• He had not consented to the Sanhedrin’s plans to crucify Jesus; presumably neither did Nicodemus;
• He gathered up courage to go to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body;
• He and Nicodemus prepared Jesus’ body for burial; likely they knew each other already;
• They buried Jesus in Joseph’s own new tomb hewed out in the rock.
Pilate gave him Jesus’ body because:
• He asked for it, also
• Possibly assuming that he was handing Jesus’ body to Jewish authorities, as Joseph was a Council member.
You can be a secret disciple, but it’s better to be a courageous one and stand up for Him.