Summary: What motivates a secret disciple of Jesus to remain underground? Where do you find those who are secret disciples of Jesus? The answer to these questions about secret disciples may surprise you.
Have you ever wondered how a secret disciple of Jesus thinks and acts? What motivates a secret disciple of Jesus to remain underground? Where do you find those who are secret disciples of Jesus? The answer to these questions about secret disciples may surprise you.
If there is any passage of Scripture that should bring about righteous indignation for a follower of Christ, it is the recorded actions of the Sanhedrin just prior to the crucifixion of Jesus. Here we find this elite religious council of seventy looking for false evidence against Jesus to put him to death. This council went to extremes to humiliate Jesus when they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. (Matthew 26:59,67)
A council involved in this abhorrent activity would seem the least likely place to find secret disciples of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea is identified to us specifically as a secret disciple of Jesus (John 19:38). Another member of the council, Nicodemus is very strongly implied to be a secret disciple of Jesus too. Not only do we find two extraordinary disciples of Jesus among this infamous council, but also we find them at the forefront during the most critical three-day juncture of human history.
The Sanhedrin: Where we find secret disciples of Jesus.
Let’s look at what an incredible council this Sanhedrin really was. The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy
members made up of the chief priests, scribes and elders. The presiding officer of the Sanhedrin was the
Jewish high priest. This council was the highest and final court of appeal for matters regarding
We find the Sanhedrin influencing the circumstances of Jesus arrest and trial for their purposes. They wanted to see Jesus put to death. Even without the direct authority to execute anyone (John 18:31) this council managed to manipulate Pilate to bring about the crucifixion of Jesus.
It was the Sanhedrin that persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. They even mocked Jesus while He was hanging on the cross. Out of this heinous Sanhedrin emerged Joseph of Arimathea the secret disciple and Nicodemous who much earlier had approached Jesus at night under the cover of darkness.
Just who is Joseph of Arimathea?
Joseph of Arimathea is one of the few who is mentioned in all four Gospels. His deed of giving his own tomb for Jesus burial was foretold by Isaiah in the suffering servant passage. (Is.53:9) “He made his grave with the rich.” The crucifixion is full of irony in that the anointed Messiah was a suffering servant, despised and punished. Another more overlooked irony is a disciple of Jesus was found among the Sanhedrin. Not only was Joseph of Arimathea a member of the exclusive seventy, Joseph was a prominent member of the Council. (Mark 15:43) We are also told that Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man. (Matthew 27:57)
Many commentaries do not place Joseph of Arimathea in favorable light. They emphasize the one negative statement of his “fear of the Jews.” There are numerous positive aspects mentioned in the Scriptures about Joseph. He was a good and upright man. He had not consented to the Sanhedrin decision and action to see Jesus executed. Luke describes Joseph of Arimathea much like he did old Simeon who blessed Joseph and Mary when they took Jesus to the temple. Joseph of Arimathea was waiting for the kingdom of God. He acted at the right time, in the right way, to the right degree to bring glory to God.
Joseph of Arimathea is the main figure in the burial of Jesus. Every Gospel writer is familiar with Joseph and each writer mentioned he is of Arimathea. Nowhere else in the Bible is Arimathea mentioned, outside Jesus burial account and in reference to Joseph. Biblical background experts do not even know where Arimathea is. Luke tells us it is a Judean town, but you won’t find Arimathea on a Bible map.
The Burial of Jesus
After Jesus death Joseph asked Pilate for the body. Mark mentions that he went boldly to Pilate when he asked for Jesus body. Pilate was careful because members of the Sanhedrin had manipulated him once already this day. Pilate was not going to simply take this good and upright man at his word. Joseph of Arimathea was, after all a member of the scheming Sanhedrin. Pilate summoned the Centurion and was surprised to hear Jesus was already dead and then ordered the body be given to Joseph.
With Pilate’s permission, Joseph took the body down from the cross with the help of his fellow council member, Nicodemus the same who earlier had visited Jesus at night. (John Chapter 3) This is also the Nicodemus who opposed his fellow council members when he found they were condemning Jesus in a way contrary to the Mosaic Law. (John 7:50-52).