Pilate was a very protected governor. It would have been very difficult for anybody to have an unscheduled audience with Pilate so quickly. How was Joseph of Arimathea able to gain access to Pilate so easily? Some say it could have been his sheer boldness in demanding to see Pilate, but that alone wouldn’t have gotten him past the guards. It could also have been his reputation and standing as a wealthy merchant and a member of the Sanhedrin. Perhaps. However the Eastern Orthodox church has another answer that gives an intriguing answer this question.
The Eastern Orthodox claim that Joseph of Arimathea was the brother of the Virgin Mary’s father, Heli who was a descendent of King David from David’s son Nathan. In Luke’s geneology of Jesus, Mary’s husband Joseph is referred to the son of Heli when he was actually son-in-law to Heli; Mary’s father. Church tradition proclaims that Mary’s father, Heli, had a younger brother named Joseph who lived in Arimathaea “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, … Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,. (Luke 3:23,31)
If this is true, then Joseph of Arimathea was not only of the lineage of David, but also the legal guardian of Jesus’ body, he being the nearest living male relative to him. Therefore, Pilate would have been obligated by law to give the body to Joseph of Arimathea.