Was Joseph of Arimathea able to support Jesus in his mission?
It happened one day that when Jesus was near Jerusalem, a scribe came up to him and walked by his side part way along the road and they talked together.
The scribe was Joseph of Arimathea, who was highly learned and much esteemed.
And he was among those who with great longing hoped for the early coming of the Messiah; and he prayed each day that God would grant him the privilege and joy of beholding the long-awaited One.
When God saw the longing in Joseph’s heart, he awoke the hope in his mind that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised, the expected Messiah.
But Joseph dared not fully believe in this hope, for he had heard much evil talk among the scribes about this Jesus and he knew that many of the elders and highest ones had made protest to the council in Jerusalem, had made complaint against the Nazarene's blaspheming words.
And when he heard that Jesus was near, he resolved to see him and speak with him.
And Joseph went forth from Jerusalem to meet Jesus.
But, unseen, the Elder, the Servant of the Darkness, followed him upon this journey.
And the Elder tried to remove the faint remembrance that Joseph bore in his heart of the times that were, before mankind; and when he stood before Jesus his spirit knew him not.
But the spirit of Jesus knew his brother.
And Jesus said: "Brother, be welcome; be with me, not against me!"
Joseph wondered at these words.
And when he had kept silent a while, he said: "Truly, I am not against you, but you are against me. Yes, you are against all we who are the true teachers of the people, and you stir the people against us. Tell me, by what right do you this?"
Jesus looked upon him, but he made no answer..
Then Joseph continued to speak.
And he said: "Many say that you are the Messiah; and are you him whom we all expect then should you not be against us, then should you gather the people about you that together we may break the heavy yoke of bondage; then should you gather the people about you that together we may throw off the despised and heavy burdens placed upon our backs by the foreigners. Yes, are you the Messiah, then should you come to us, then should we make you the leader of all the people, then should we clothe you in purple and place you upon the throne of David that we may fulfill the words that have been spoken to us of the Messiah. And then should we all bow before you, all obey your words."
But Jesus answered and said: "Truly, I tell you that I was born not to the Earth to rule over the people, for my kingdom is not of this world. Truly, I tell you that I am not come to gather the multitudes about me by force. I am not come to slay, neither to cast out the foreigners, nor to rob; I am sent instead to teach the people to love one another, to bear witness to our Father's justice and to lead all to His Kingdom."
While Jesus spoke in this manner, Joseph heard distantly a voice with his inner ear.
And the voice said: "Sustain one another, bear each other's burdens, fail not!."
And Joseph listened to the words; his heart softened, and he said: "Are you the Messiah, then tell it to me and I shall plead your cause before all, then shall the elders and the highest ones receive you upon my words."
But Jesus answered and said: "Will you plead my cause then must you walk by my side, then must you give to the poor your riches, then must you turn away from all power, honors and esteem. Truly, I tell you that would you plead my cause then must you forsake all that is yours and travel with me along the stony and dusty roads; then should we sustain one another, then should we bear one another's burdens and together should we lead the people to our Father."
While Jesus spoke in this manner, Joseph heard again the distant voice.
And the voice said: "Follow your brother, fail not."
Then Joseph hesitated. But doubt arose again in him, for the Elder, the Servant of the Darkness, stood by his side and attempted to confuse his thoughts.
And Joseph said: "Are you the Messiah, then tell it to me, then give me a sign that I may know your words are true."
Once more Jesus looked upon him.
And he said: "Does your heart not tell you that my words are true, then will a sign help but little; for they who doubt, and who are unsure will demand ever more signs, demand ever greater signs. Truly, I tell you that by outward signs will doubt never cease but grow only greater, and then will hope and faith never turn to certainty."
When Jesus had answered thus, he walked away in anger—anger so great that he gave no parting word even to the scribe.
From that time there was no peace for Joseph of Arimathea, for the worm of doubt gnawed ever at him and the inner voice whispered often: "Follow your brother, fail not!"
But at those times and at those places where Jesus spoke to the disciples, spoke to the many who gathered about him, Joseph was often among the people, listening to his words.
And they saw each other but were not able to meet, for their eldest brother and his maledictions stood between them and bound their hearts.
But both grieved much.