Mark 15:43

Joseph from Ramah, a councillor of good position, who was himself living in expectation of the kingdom of God, came and ventured to go in to see Pilate, and to ask for the body of Jesus.

no matter one’s rank
or respectability
there is tension
at border lines

will I be received
this time
will this be the time
I’m not

we’re talking bodies here
first theirs
then if time disjoints
mine mine

no matter past privilege
it doesn’t accrue
this risk is this risk
proceed apace

There are questions about whether Joseph was a part of the Sanhedrin testing of Jesus and finding him a blasphemer or having just arrived on other business from Arimathea. This latter possibility seems best for another Markan parallel—with another passer-by, Simon of Cyrene (15:21). Also arguing against having been present in the Sanhedrin is the degree of hypocrisy he would have had to hold as someone eagerly watching for the Presence of G*D.

There are additional questions about Joseph’s motivation. If he were a “secret” follower of Jesus, he would wish to honor his presence with a proper burial. However, the burial is not altogether proper without a cleansing and anointing of the corpse. An argument can be made that the burial was incomplete simply because of a lack of time.

Even with the caveat that Joseph was awaiting “God’s kingdom”, what likely brought Joseph to bury Jesus’ body so quickly was a desire to honor his tradition as found in Deuteronomy 21:23:

…you must not let his corpse remain on the stake overnight
but must bury him the same day.
For an impaled body is an affront to God:
you shall not defile the land
that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
[The Jewish Study Bible]

There are those who suggest that the centurion and Joseph are a reversal of the condemnation by Rome (Pilate) and the Sanhedrin (Chief Priest). This feels like an attempt to find a blessing in every cloud, an unwillingness to face the ugliness of life eye-to-eye. A narrative line that has a mocking centurion and tradition-bound Joseph carries a stronger consistency.

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