Joseph was a believer, but in secret! Why was he afraid of the Jews? For the same reason Peter denied Christ—for fear that they too would be killed. More than that, Joseph was a respected pillar of the community, a man who had worked a lifetime to achieve what he had. To come out publicly as a disciple would have meant the destruction of the life he and his family enjoyed.
John says Joseph "took the body of Jesus." Taking a lifeless body down from a stake is no one-man task. Nicodemus, another secret disciple, also a member of the Sanhedrin, helped him. This is the same Nicodemus who came to Jesus "by night" to ask Him some pointed questions and received some pointed answers (John 3:1-21).
Joseph of Arimathea
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