42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
Mark 15:42-46 NIV
What a risk! What a request! Jesus had just been crucified and all the people that were associated with him (with the notable exception of the women) had all disappeared. It was also the day before the Sabbath and any contravention of the rabbinic requirements for observance were not tolerated. A man in Joseph’s position had much to lose with such a bold request to Pilate. He ran the risk of being associated with Christ, a “criminal” who had been condemned by the Roman authorities. He also ran the risk of being ostracized by his council members, even though he was of high rank. Additionally, he could have made the request and gotten a swift “no”. Internally, he also probably debated the necessity of taking Christ down off the cross and laying him in a tomb. There were probably several “good” reasons not to do so. But Joseph persevered through the rationalization and risk and made the request.
What amazes me about this passage is that he seemed to have been ready for the “yes” that he received. With little time to waste, he took the body down and wrapped it in linen that he had recently purchased. It is wonderfully coincidental that there was a tomb that had already been prepared. It is however more than likely that Joseph would have needed help to get all of this done within the few hours before the commencement of the Sabbath.
Many times, we ask God for things like “wisdom”, “understanding” and “direction”. When he responds with a “yes”, we can sometimes be caught by surprise. It’s as if we think of the request as appropriate but are halfhearted in our preparation to meet the circumstances that will produce our desired result. Assuring our sobriety with God-borne honesty, transparency, patience, empathy and accountability require that we prepare ourselves to act when situations that result in these qualities arise.
Like Joseph, are you prepared for your “yes”? There is usually a connection between the challenges that we face and desire we have for positive character traits. If you are going through a difficult season, share with people who you trust. Allow them to speak encouragement into your life about what qualities God could possibly be honing in your character.