Wealth is a difficult topic. Having worked in both some of the poorest communities in the world and those with considerable affluence, I have learned that much wealth doesn’t always make for a fulfilled life. It is all a question of what we do with it.
Joseph of Arimathea is both a ‘rich man’ and ‘prominent council member,’ who is described as ‘good and just.’ He quietly requests Jesus’ body after his tortuous death.
Was he was compelled by the love of Christ? Or aware of Isaiah’s prophecy that the messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb?
Or does he want to prevent Jesus being buried, as he had died, with criminals. Or was he simply moved by compassion to use his extensive resources in this way?
Earlier, Luke recalls Jesus’ words ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.’ Clearly Joseph was to be trusted with much, to care for the body of the saviour of the world. He did it quietly for fear of the ramifications, but he did it with care and dignity for the one whom he loved.
There are lessons for us all here. We all face tough decisions about which people and causes to support. Very often we will have a personal connection to assist us with that. The principle behind these decisions is perhaps more important. Our relative ‘wealth’ large or small is not simply for ourselves. It is for the blessing of others. Whatever decisions we make as followers of Jesus we are those whose resources can enable careful compassion. In one sense every time we do this, we are showing the same care that Joseph did albeit in a different time and place. It is often said that our bank statements are an indication of our heart’s priorities – it is a useful exercise to review these with a question in mind: are my spending priorities the priorities of Jesus? What changes might he be calling you to make?