While Peter denied Jesus and most of the other disciples scattered at the crucifixion, others surprisingly demonstrated bold faith during Christ’s suffering.
Consider Nicodemus, a leading Pharisee. In John 3, we see him come to Jesus “at night.” He comes in secret. He doesn’t want to be seen. He has a reputation to protect. He could get in trouble aligning himself with Jesus.
Jesus’ words, “You must be born again” and “For God so loved the world” must have reached Nicodemus’ heart. He appeared to be a changed man.
John 7:51 records him asking the other Pharisees who are accusing and condemning Jesus, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
Then, after Jesus had been crucified, Nicodemus showed up again. John makes sure to point out, “And Nicodemus, who first came to Jesus by night…” This same Nicodemus, who came in secret, is now there in public “bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.” At great personal cost, both to his reputation and to his bank account, Nicodemus stood up and stood out.
Another man, Joseph of Arimathea, was also there. He iswasa rich man. He was a prominent council member. Did he do business in Jerusalem? He too was well known and had a reputation to protect.
Of Joseph, we read that he “was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, a good and just man and a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews.”
“A disciple of Jesus, but secretly…” Isn’t that an oxymoron?! How can we follow Jesus secretly? Believe in secret, maybe. But a disciple, a follower, in secret? Joseph must have been “busting at the seems” wanting to come out and let the world know.
And so it is that we find the secret disciple stepping out of the shadows. “Coming and taking courage, this man went to Pilate and asked that he might take the body of Jesus.”
At great personal cost, both to his reputation with the Jews and to his own safety in approaching Pilate, not to mention giving his newly hewn family burial cave, Joseph stood up and stood out.
Joseph and Nicodemus each had something to lose, but they counted the cost, pushed all their chips to the center of the table, and went ALL IN for Jesus.
What a great example for us of the devotion, commitment and sacrifice of a Christ-follower. Like Nicodemus and Joseph, each day I want to stand up and stand out for Jesus!