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. Mark 15:43
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. Mark 15:46
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Mark 16:1-3
After Jesus breathed his last breath, practical problems ensued. How would his followers gain control of his body? How could he be properly laid to rest and where? How could they work around the prohibitions of the Sabbath? And when his body was placed in the tomb, how would the massive stone be moved to finish the job of embalming the body?
Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Christ, “gathered up courage” and asked Pilate to take the body for burial in his tomb. The death of Jesus had finally emboldened him to come out in the open and face a man who had just had Jesus beaten to a pulp and crucified, and his request was granted. If we gain anything from the Lord’s gruesome death it should be boldness, for Jesus endured to the end. While there was enough courage available for Joseph to speak out, the driving force seemed to be the deadlines set forth in the law. He did the responsible thing.
The women, on the other hand, acted out of love and devotion. Despite the fact the tomb was guarded and a stone blocked access to Jesus’ body, they set out early in the morning anyway in hopes that it would all work out. With the disciples huddled together “mourning and weeping,” they had to do something, anything for their Master. They had a bias for action. As a result, they were richly rewarded, for they put themselves in a position to see the empty tomb, and later, the resurrected Jesus.
Do we need to gather up courage this Easter? Do we need to reposition ourselves to experience the empty tomb and witness the risen Christ? It will involve stepping out of our comfort zones into the unknown, and it will cost us something (note Joseph bought a cloth and contributed his tomb, and the women bought spices). But it all will be worth it.