The Apostles: Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Arimathea is best known for his role of burying Jesus body.

The name Joseph means he will add.

The exact location of Arimathea is unknown.  However, Luke 23:51 tells us it was a “town of Judea”.

Let’s take a look at what scripture tells us about him:

  • He was rich                                                                                                               Matthew 27:57
  • He was a disciple of Jesus                                                                                     Matthew 27:57
  • A respected member of the council                                                                     Mark 15:43
  • Waited expectedly for kingdom of God                                                                Mark 15:43
  • Boldly went to Pilate                                                                                                Mark 15:43
  • Purchased a linen cloth                                                                                          Mark 15:46
  • Buried Jesus body with Nicodemus                                                                      John 19:39-40
  • Laid Jesus in tomb no one had laid in before                                                     Luke 23:53
  • Strong enough to roll the stone {probably with Nicodemus help}                    Matthew 27:60           

It is believed Joseph laid Jesus in the tomb he bought for himself. We do know from scripture, no one had laid there before.

Other than in the burial account of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea is not mentioned again in the New Testament.

According to early church writings, he was angry with the council for not being consulted when Jesus was arrested. He was later arrested and imprisoned before escaping from prison. He testified that Jesus had been raised from the dead and ascended to heaven.

The idea that he was one of the 70 apostles mentioned in Luke 10 was first written by Hilary of Poitiers in the third century and later by John Chrysostom.

Around the 12th Century, legend begin to creep up that he was responsible for keeping the Holy Grail after Jesus death. He eventually has a group of followers take the cup to Britain.

Another legend, states when walking toward the abbey at Glastonbury, his staff “miraculously” took root, leafed out and blossomed into the Glastonbury thorn.

While nice legends, there is no known validity to them. However, he’ll always be remembered as the man who took Jesus from the cross and buried him in his own tomb. But the good news is Jesus didn’t stay there. He rose from the grave and is alive today.

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