Read Luke 23
Focus on verse 50-51
A dissenter is one who refuses to go along with the majority. It may be for honorable reasons or it may not be, a dissenter is one who for whatever reason has determined that the majority are making a wrong choice, and if he or she is passionate enough about the dissent, they may even take extreme measures to attempt to stop the majority from moving ahead with their plan
In today’s reading we meet a dissenter from among the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a group of seventy elders who were responsible for the teaching, interpretation and application of religious law of the land of Israel. This was the group that conspired to arrest and condemn Jesus to death, and we typically assume they were a pretty corrupt bunch, but apparently not all of them were.
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. (50-51)
According to this, not all the leaders on the council were corrupt. The text does not reveal whether there were any others like Joseph on the council. What it does tell us is that Joseph did not agree with the decision to execute Jesus. He gives us further evidence of this in his taking responsibility for the expense and detail of burying Jesus body after the execution.
One might say that Joseph was a dissenter. He did not agree with the decision of the council, and he chose to act upon the good and righteous principles that motivated him to be seeking the kingdom of God. The whole movement that grows out of Jesus resurrection and ascension, which we now call the church, in many ways, is a movement of dissent. In a few weeks as we begin reading the book of Acts, we will see how the early church is really a movement of dissent with what the Jewish leaders were continuing to teach in Israel. They were still waiting for the messiah to appear, this new Way that followed Jesus believed Jesus was the Messiah and that His appearance and teaching changed everything.
There are ways by which the church even now continues to be a movement of dissent, in that as churches become stale and set in tradition, God typically raises up some dissenters to stir things up to breathe new life into the body of Christ. Sometimes it works and the church is revived, other times it doesn’t and the dissenters are cast out. Discerning church leaders seek God diligently to verify if the dissent that arises is of God’s design, or someone seeking to divide or lead the church astray.