Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. (John 19:38-39)
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had significant influence in the Jewish community and had kept their faith a secret all the way up to the day Jesus died on the cross. But witnessing all that happened that day and the last breath of Jesus on that cross changed everything. They threw caution to the wind and asked Pilate for his body. Then single-handedly in the light of day, they prepared his body for burial. Working together and quickly to lay him to rest before sundown (the beginning of the Sabbath), these two secret believers made their love for Jesus a spectacle. Joseph’s tomb was near the hill upon which Jesus had died, so their work to lay him to rest would have been visible to all.
PUT YOUR LOYALTY TO JESUS ON DISPLAY
Nicodemus had come to Jesus by night months earlier wanting to know how to be born again. But since that time, he had followed Jesus at a distance, in secret (See (John 3). But now by the light of day he carried the lifeless body of Jesus with Joseph to lay him to rest. Their loyalty to Jesus would have been obvious to those who crucified him. Their loyalty was on display. What this meant for their seat of influence on the Jewish ruling council was now irrelevant to them. They witnessed Jesus finishing his mission, and now it was their mission to make him known.
HE HAS DONE ALL OF THE WORK, WE GET ALL OF THE BENEFITS
Jesus’ last words were, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28), and “It is finished (John 19:30).” What more can anyone do to save humanity? Nothing. Jesus has done all of the work for you and me, and we get to enjoy all of the benefits. The righteous for the unrighteous, he reconciled us to God (See 2 Corinthians 5). The raw, vulnerable, excruciating pain Jesus endured on the cross brought Joseph and Nicodemus out of hiding.
THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND
How about you? Do you hide in your belief. I do sometimes depending on the situation. Are you secretly following Jesus? To get drawn out of hiding you need to consider deeply, the Cross. Read the account of the cross and allow the Holy Spirit to do in you what he did in these two men. They threw caution to the wind, they no longer cared if their reputation would be ruined in their community for aligning their lives to Jesus. After seeing what Jesus did for them on the Cross, this was the normal response… the least they could do to express their love and gratitude to him. Joseph and Nicodemus came out of hiding and put their full weight down on the fact that, “Truly this is the Son of God (Mark 15:39).” No more secret belief.
ACTION FOR YOUTH WORKERS
- Often young people are embarrassed or fearful of making their faith in Jesus known to their friends. One of the ways we can serve our young friends the best is to help them make their faith public by making your mid-week outreach event is something that students will want to invite their friends to. This takes a lot of work, but by partnering with them and providing a great venue for the Gospel to be shared, you are helping them make their secret faith in Jesus more open, and this benefits everyone. No one thrives in secret.