Summary: Joseph of Arimathea (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Matthew chapter 27 verse 11-26.


In A.D. 373John Chrysostom became a hermit;

• He went alone into the mountains near Antioch, seeking to know God better.

• Although his time of isolation was cut short by illness,

• He discovered that with God at his side,

• He could attend alone against anyone or anything.

• That experience served Chrysostom well.

• In A.D. 398 he was appointed patriarch of Constantinople.

• Where his zeal for reform antagonized the Empress Eudoxia,

• Who had him exiled.

• After a period of time he was allowed to return once again to Constantinople.

• But yet again Chrysostom infuriated Eudoxia, who once again sent him away.

• Question: How did Chrysostom respond to such persecution?

• Answer: With these words:

• “What can I fear? Will it be death?

• But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death.

• Will it be exile?

• But the earth and all its fullness are the Lord’s.

• Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for;

• And from death I do not shrink.”

Unlike Chrysostom most of us do fear other people:

• Sometimes it is easier to ‘keep a low profile’ than to make a stand.

• True in lots of areas of life;

Quote: Robert Kennedy:

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence, yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world”.

• ‘Keeping a low profile’ rather than making a stand.

• Can apply to lots of areas in life;

• But it is especially true, when it comes to making a stand for Christ!

• ‘To speak up or to keep quiet’ – that is the question!

• In our case study this morning we meet such a man:

• His name Joseph of Arimathea.

(1). A secret disciple.

• According to John’s account (chapter 19 verse 38) while Joseph of Arimathea,

• Was “a disciple of Jesus,” he was a secretly one.

• The reason for his fear is clearly stated “for fear of the Jews.”

• He allowed his fear to keep him from making his decision about Jesus to be made public.

• His fear had caused Joseph not to take a bold stand for Christ;

• Even though he knew that his heart was telling him to do so.

• Question: What kind of fear was this that kept Joseph a secret disciple?

• Answer: we do not know if it was.....

• Fear for his own life, for his family or for his position?

• It’s not always easy to step up against the authorities.


• During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Krushchev,

• Denounced many of the policies and atrocities of his predecessor Joseph Stalin.

• Once, as he reproached Stalin in a public meeting,

• Krushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler, in the audience who said,

• “You were one of Stanlin colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?”

• “Who said that?” roared Krushchev.

• An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle.

• Then Krushchev, replied quietly, “Now you know why.”

Because he was gripped by fear, for awhile Joseph remained a “secret’ disciple.

• It is as if he is on the proverbial fence;

• Trying to keep a foot on each side.

• Most of us,

• If not all of us know exactly how he felt;

• We have all at some time blended in with everyone else;

• When we know that we should have taken a stand for Christ!

• Joseph, for as long as he could, kept his faith in Christ a secret;

• But there came a point in his life where that secret had to be shared!

• Joseph of Arimathea was a man who went from cowardness to courage.

• From fear of man to lover of Christ.

• A turning point came for Joseph when he had to make a decision regarding the body of Jesus;

• To see it rot or to see it honoured!


• In honouring Jesus by providing for him his own tomb:

• Joseph was unknowingly fulfilling the words of Isaiah the prophet (chapter 53 verse 9):

“He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death”

• Christ died with both the wicked i.e. the two criminals at Golgotha.

• And with the rich in his death, i.e. buried in the tomb of a wealthy man.

(2). A council member.

• He was a member of the Sanhedrin,

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