Why in the world would the Gospel writers lie about who buried Jesus, especially since early Christians would have been shocked that one of the Sanhedrin buried him. They were the very group that had Jesus executed! It also makes the disciples of Jesus look very bad to have had someone else bury Jesus instead of them. Why would they report this if it weren't true?My initial response is that Mark needed to explain how Jesus got buried in the first place. The usual Roman practice was to leave the bodies of crucified criminals on the cross to rot as a warning to other potential troublemakers. In order to get the Romans to allow Jesus’ body to be buried, the request would have to come from someone with some influence in the community. Therefore, Mark has one of the Jewish priests, albeit a pious one, make the request. “Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body.” Mark 15:43.
My second response is that the other three gospel writers seem to be distressed by the very things that bothered the apologist. For example, Luke is careful to absolve Joseph of any responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion: “Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.” Luke 23:50-51.
Matthew and John, on the other hand, apparently agreed that a disciple should have buried Jesus. Matthew makes Joseph a rich disciple: “As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.” Matthew 27:57-58. John makes Joseph a secret disciple: "Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away." John 19:38.
Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that Matthew, Luke, and John have changed Mark’s story in exactly the way that my apologist friend thinks a liar would. Given that, is there any reason to think that Mark wouldn't be perfectly willing to change the stories as well?