Who is Joseph of Arimathea? Where did he come from? As I looked at the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, this name appeared that was unfamiliar to me. I knew Joseph who was thrown in the pit by his brothers and I surely remembered Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph. But this Joseph, I had never before heard of. However, the more I read, the more I wanted to know about him.
Scripture tells us very little about him. Matthew says he was “rich.” Mark says he was “respected.” Luke says he was “good and righteous.” John says he was a “secret” disciple of Jesus. But that’s it for his “who.” The next thing we read is after Jesus was crucified, this man, Joseph of Arimathea, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body in order to provide a proper burial. Pilate obliged. This Joseph and another man took the limp body, wrapped it in linen cloth, and buried Him in a tomb.
Nothing else. That was the beginning and end of Joseph of Arimathea.
So I asked, “God, help me understand. Who was this man? The significance of his role is evident, but that’s it? Nothing more?”
God told me, “Yes, that’s it. But my child, what is more important…his ‘who’ or his ‘what’?”
I sat silently and began to ask myself…..
Are we overly consumed with “who” people are instead of the purpose for which they were created?
So often we only focus on the “who.” Who they are, who they know, who they can introduce us to. “Oh that’s John Doe.” Ears perk up when the “who” rings a bell, but how often do we get to the core of their “what”? This man, Joseph of Arimathea, was instrumental in what I deem as one of the most important days in history. His “what” significantly superseded his “who.”
Being a man of wealth, what would have happened if Joseph of Arimathea had felt the responsibility of burying Jesus was beneath him? What if Joseph of Arimathea had allowed himself to be preoccupied with what others might say? Obviously, he knew who Jesus was, yet scripture describes him as a “secret” disciple. What if Pilate had questioned Joseph of Arimathea about “who” he was? Could he have expressed himself in such a way as to convince Pilate to let him have Jesus’ body?
Don’t get me wrong. Knowing “who” you are is important. But time and time again, we work harder to get man to know “who” we are than to know “who” Jesus called us to be. Joseph of Arimathea was rich and highly respected, but when the rubber met the road (as my grandma would say), his “who” became irrelevant. He was not going to allow anything to stop him from fulfilling his “what.”
And the fulfillment of his “what” changed the world.
What about your “what”? “What” were you created to do? The fact that man does not know “who” you are has no relevance to you attaining “what” God has destined for you. Yes, He wants you to know “who” you are in Him, but know that He also has a “what” with your name on it. Whether it’s big or small is irrelevant. I believe the impact your “what” will have on the world at large is greater than you could ever imagine. And doing “what” He called you to do must take precedence over the world knowing your “who.”