Joseph of Arimathea

Although coming only from a small village in Judea, Joseph was a respected member of the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43). The fact that he had a private tomb and was able to provide the linen for it is evidence of his wealth (Matt. 27:57- 60). He is described by Luke as “a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action [i.e., the Sanhedrin's plot against Jesus] . . . and he was waiting for the kingdom of God” (23:50f.), and by John as “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he feared the Jews” (John 19:38). The crucifixion seems to have emboldened him, and he used his position to go to Pilate and obtain from him permission to take down the body of Jesus from the cross (Mark 15:43-46, etc.). This may have been partly the act of a Jew not wishing to see the land defiled by a corpse (Deut. 21:23), but is more closely bound up with his devotion to Jesus. A number of legends were associated with him, especially that of a visit to England with the Holy Grail and the building of a church at Glastonbury.