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March 28, 2014

Going Public

“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 (NIV)

Are you a secret-agent saint? Fearing how those around you may respond, do you cloak your faith as an undercover disciple? The closer you draw to Jesus, the less likely you will remain hidden. When you experience His love and recognize all that He’s done for you, you’ll go public with your faith, unashamed of the gospel because you know it is the good news that offers salvation and forgiveness of sins to all who receive Him. Fear keeps most of us silent about our faith. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is moving forward in spite of my fears. Joseph of Arimathea experienced that courage after he witnessed Jesus’ death for him on the cross. He and another secret follower of Jesus, Nicodemus, who came to Jesus one night early in His ministry, were both members of the Jewish ruling council. This was the very council that pressured Pilate for the death penalty for Jesus. When you compare the gospel narratives about Joseph, you learn that he was wealthy, a prominent member of the Jewish council, a good and righteous man who had not consented to what the council did, a member of that “believing minority” of Jews who were praying for the Messiah to come and a secret disciple of Jesus Christ. But, the cross emboldened Joseph and Nicodemus to go public with their faith. Together, these two men threw caution to the wind and boldly went to Pilate requesting the body of Jesus. They would wrap it in linen strips and anoint Jesus’ body for burial as best they could given the limited time before the Sabbath, and then place His body in Joseph’s own personal tomb. Had these two not been there, it is likely that the body of Jesus would have been dumped in a ditch somewhere. Having followed Jesus from a distance, they were now drawn closer by His death and faced the challenge of their own decision. No man can come to the cross and leave the same.  We are either for Him or against Him. Jesus said, If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38 (NIV) and“Those who declare publicly that they belong to Me, I will do the same for them before My Father in heaven.But those who reject Me publicly, I will reject before My Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 (TEV) This Lenten season as we prepare for Easter may God give us courage to go public with our faith in Jesus. Share the Good News of Jesus’ love and invite your friends to church. He’s still changing lives!