Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Secret followers

I was reading a familiar story this morning - the story of the burial of Jesus from John 19. I've probably read it dozens of times in my life, and yet today I saw something I've never seen before. Check it out:

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. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.

Did you catch that? Look at it again - a secret follower of Jesus who was accompanied by another man who had been so afraid to be seen with Jesus that he went to Him at night - these are the men who end up with the body of Jesus, preparing it for burial.

All day long I've been thinking about this. I wonder about a lot of things. How did these two secret followers of Jesus find each other? What was it like to be burying Jesus after having been too afraid to be seen with him in public? Were they ashamed? Were there regrets? What was their conversation like?

Then again, this particular moment seems to be a very public thing. They go to Pilate (and Mark's gospel tells us that Joseph "went boldly to Pilate") and ask for the body. Both of these men are prominent people. They have a lot to lose in this moment to be seen as sympathetic to this "blasphemer" and "enemy of Rome". Their secret following seems to have taken a public turn.

Here's what I take from this though. The story of Jesus death is surrounded by other stories of people who totally blow it. There's Judas who betrays Him, the disciples who desert Him, one who denies Him, a crowd that mocks Him, religious people who reject Him, and these two guys who are afraid to be seen with Him.

I don't know about you - but I've found myself in just about every one of those groups at some point. And there's been more than one time in my life when I've been afraid to be known as a Jesus follower. But resurrection changes that doesn't it? No one knew the reality of Jesus death more than the guys who wrapped his body, placed it in a cold, hard tomb, and sealed it up. We don't know much about what happened to Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea after the resurrection. But I can guess. My guess is that their secret was out of the bag. I bet their fear gave way to hope, to new life, and to resurrection.

Jesus has that affect on us. He transforms us. He changes us. He embraces us. Whether we've denied Him, rejected Him, deserted Him, mocked Him, or even been afraid to be seen with Him.

May you be encouraged today to follow Him boldly.


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More