v 38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night.
John is quite explicit here – Joseph was a secret disciple because he was afraid of a reaction from the rest of the Jewish leaders. Nevertheless, it was he who offered the burial place for Jesus and set about the necessary burial rites. Joseph is well-remember for this, but we largely forget that he was accompanied by Nicodemus. Both of these men had stayed in the background while Jesus was alive, but both of them seem to have had some inkling of who Jesus was – perhaps their eyes had been opened to his claims to be the Messiah.
Nothing else is written about them in the Bible, but all sorts of traditions have grown up around them which are summarised online in Wikipedia.
There are people in our day and age who remain secret disciples of Jesus because they are afraid of a hostile reaction from their contemporaries. It might be from school friends, or family, or the civil authorities, or even their close work colleagues. Remember them in your prayers today. Their fears may be well-founded, and so they choose to remain silent about their faith. Others of us may remain silent for different, but less understandable reasons. We just can’t face the embarrassment or the scorn that might be directed at us. We need prayer too! And the grace to open our mouths and testify to our faith and hope in Jesus. Our eyes may have been opened, but now our mouths need to be opened as well.