Today we turn to the third and final mention of Nicodemus in John’s Gospel. We are at the tomb of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea has come to bury his body. Like Nicodemus, Joseph is also a member of the high court. It will not set well with the Jewish leaders if they find out that one of their own has anything to do with Jesus. Therefore, it is a bold move on Joseph’s part to seek Pilate’s approval to bury the body.
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. John 19:38
Matthew, Mark, and Luke also tell about Joseph of Arimathea. Only John reveals that Joseph had an accomplice—Nicodemus.
39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. John 19:39
Wow—75 pounds! That would be the amount of spices used for a king. Hmm, yes, a king. Joseph and Nicodemus tenderly go about their task of preparing the body for burial.
40 Taking Jesus body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. John 19:40
This scene, as well as the crucifixion, were two very difficult scenes for me to write in A Heart for truth. I tried to get into the scene and look around to see the setting, the blood, the people, the conversations or lack thereof, the emotions, the whipped flesh, the crown of thorns, the lifeless body—it was all very heart wrenching.
Nicodemus and Joseph faced a very dangerous task. Their positions in the high court, their reputations, their very lives were at risk. If the first two scenes (Nicodemus’ night visit and his statement before the Sanhedrin) were not quite full commitment, this act of love was total commitment indeed.
I recently received an email from a dear missionary friend in a another country. She spoke of a terrifying incident as she and a friend were walking in a slightly wooded area. Suddenly a pack of wild dogs encircled the two of them, barking and lunging at them with evil-looking eyes. They managed by God’s grace to escape, but she reflected on how of late, evil seemed to be all around them. A fellow worker had fallen into depression. New believers were weeping over the way their families were treating them. Satan seemed to be haunting them at every turn.
I think of the easiness of my own life. I have challenges, but nothing like this, nor the great risks that men like Nicodemus and Joseph faced to stand in their faith. I think of today’s martyrs who sit in prisons because they profess belief in Jesus. How do they endure? As I study God’s word, try to understand, and seek to believe with greater depth, I wonder how strong and faithful I would be in the face of life-threatening danger. Would I have the boldness, the full trust, the commitment to stand firm in my faith? Help us, oh Lord. Help us to grow in our commitment to you.
~ Joyce ~