John 19, 38-42
Something to read
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
After the crucifixion, we will read of the victorious resurrection that took place and we will celebrate Easter and worship the risen and alive Jesus Christ.
But beforehand, we have darkness; a dead Jesus and plenty of fear. The majority of Jesus’ closest companions have run into hiding and the ones we see here in today’s passage who are tending to the body are the secret believers.
The inner circle, at the loss of their shepherd, have been struck by fear yet the fearful, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, find boldness enough to step from the shadows and make their discipleship public by serving their Master through giving Him an honourable burial.
So, what does this say to us as followers of Jesus living today? For me as the writer of this piece I am deeply challenged by it. My mind is drawn to the times I have slipped away into the shadows and become a secret believer just to save myself any problems when I should have been telling people about Jesus.
On the flip side too it makes me think about the times I have done the opposite and through action, word and deed shown myself to be a follower of Christ. On the one hand I hid my light, and on the other I allowed it to shine brightly for the world to see. Is this something you can relate to?
Jesus Himself said: 'You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven' (Matthew 5:14-16). Also, Paul writes 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel…For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed' (Romans 1:15-17).
As I read this passage from John and consider these other two passages I see two men who in despite of the darkness that fell over the land still found the boldness to step up to the plate and be noticed for the sake and honour of Jesus.
These two men demonstrated we should be willing to cry out 'I am not ashamed of the gospel' and let the light and love of Jesus shine out through us in word and deed, so that His name can be made known to those around us. The challenge, of course, to us is: can we do this even in the dark times and in the face of suffering? With God’s help I believe we can!
Something to do
Why not try telling a friend or family member something about Jesus today and letting them know of some of the important things He has done in your life. If not this, prayerfully and lovingly serve somebody as if doing it for Jesus Himself and see what happens, the opportunity to say something about Him may just present itself. Let your light shine. God Bless you and be with you always!
Something to pray
Father God, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross for me so I may have a relationship with you and be forgiven of my wrongs. Help me, in all that I do, to be a shining light to those around us and to live a life that honours you, no longer being a secret believer but being proud to call myself your disciple. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Today's contributor is Joshua Norris, a URC minister to the joint pastorate of Halstead, Bocking and Castle Hedingham churches.