Tradition has many stories about the man Joseph of Arimathea, and little is known about him from secular history. The internal evidence of the four Gospels however, lets us know that Joseph was from a certain town of Judea (Luke 23:50); and that he was a rich member of the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50), who was a secret follower of Lord Jesus together with Nicodemus (Matthew 27:57; John 3:1-2;19:38) and had not supported the trial of Jesus earlier and his condemnation (Luke 223:51).
After Lord Jesus had given his life on the cross; being a known man of influence, Joseph of Arimathea bravely went to the Roman Prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate and asked to be given the body of Jesus for proper burial (Matthew 27:58; Mark 15:43).
The Scripture tells us that all this happened in the evening of the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54). Since Sabbath starts about 06:00pm on our Friday, and Lord Jesus gave his life at around 03:00pm; the lowering of the body from the cross, the preparation of the body with spices and the linen clothing must have taken most of the 3 hours left to perform the burial. They had no time to search for a more convenient place to bury the Lord, so Joseph offered his own newly made tomb nearby to put the body of Jesus to rest (Matthew 27:59-60).
Joseph of Arimathea, a sinful man, destined by nature to the doom of eternal perdition, like any of us, had purchased a tomb, a good solid mausoleum with a private garden around, proper of his high economic and social status; in the foreseen expectation of his unavoidable death. Neither his knowledge of Scripture, or his acts of piety, or his money or membership in the Sanhedrin could deliver him from the dreadful destiny of the grave. Like any other mortal, his final residence, like any of us, was a cold stone basin, within a dark cave, to be sealed with a heavy rock for ages to come.
But one day he met Jesus, and as Nicodemus and many other high-ranking Jews, he came to believe in Him as Messiah and Son of God. Suddenly, Jesus gave him a new vision of life and a sense of destiny. He was given Living Water within by the Saviour of Mankind.
When Joseph offered his tomb to Lord Jesus, without realizing it, he was epitomizing the story of his own redemption.
The sinless atoning Lamb of God, Jesus of Nazareth, had just given his life on the cross, to atone for the sins of the sinner Joseph of Arimathea and to win over his salvation. Jesus, died in his place, and was buried in the tomb prepared for him; while Joseph remained alive, a new man, aspiring to eternal life thanks to that dead Jesus that now was lying in his tomb.
Joseph enacted that evening, the whole story of his salvation, and most probably did not notice it at the moment, but years after.