Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Mission Impossible

God's blessing on bold action.

John 19:38–42

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

This is a perfect portrait of saints in action. Joseph and Nicodemus have a holy goal, they develop a strategy to make it happen, and they implement it precisely.

And they risk their necks to do it. You can almost hear the Mission Impossible theme song in the background as you read this passage. Joseph goes to Pilate secretly and gets permission to execute his bold plan. Then he and Nicodemus get the body, bring the spices and the linen, and perform a proper burial in a brand-new tomb.

But there’s a twist. Joseph and Nicodemus think they’re just preparing Jesus for burial. Little do they know, they’re also preparing Him for resurrection.

The key is that they bury Him in a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. They don’t do this to set the stage for the resurrection; they do it because the tomb is right there handy.

But set the stage they do. This means that Jesus is alone in the tomb, which proves useful.

Jesus being alone in the tomb isn’t absolutely necessary, but it helps. Things would have been “messier” if there had been another body in there. The resurrection wouldn’t have totally emptied the tomb. The people who came there later might have struggled to sort things out. It wouldn’t have been as obvious that Jesus wasn’t there.

And for people who wanted to deny the resurrection, the other body would have fueled all kinds of nonsense.

So, the dots all connect at the precise moment they need to.


Let this be a lesson to you. Take bold, decisive, well-planned action in service to the King, and interesting things will happen.

But note there’s a crucial element to this not mentioned in this passage—prayer. It’s a safe bet that these two didn’t cook up this grand scheme on their own; they prayed. That’s essential.

Not all bold, decisive, well-planned action is in service of God’s agenda.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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