Today's team journal was written by our sister and DWITW treasurer, Kaitlyn Carl.
Two Pharisees, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, had the distinct privilege of burying the Lord Jesus after His death on the cross. They buried Him like a king, using seventy-five pounds of spices to cover His body before they wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in a never-before-used tomb (John 19:38-42). What an amazing opportunity these men had to honor our Lord in His death! And they risked much in doing so. Both men were members of the Jewish high council: rich men of high status and great repute among the Jews. By stepping forward to bury Jesus, they risked losing all of that. They also defiled themselves by touching a dead body, foregoing their ability to participate in the Passover feast that the Jews were celebrating that night. They would have to celebrate one month later (Numbers 9:5-12). What dedication to our Lord is shown in this truly sacrificial act of love.
But these men didn't start here.
Joseph of Arimathea is described in John 19 as a secret disciple of Jesus, for he feared the Jews.
Nicodemus had previously approached Jesus under the cover of night, alone, so as not to be seen speaking with Him (John 3:1-2).
While these two men ministered tenderly to the Lord in His death, they missed the opportunity to have regular, face-to-face interaction with the living, breathing, flesh-and-blood God incarnate! And for what? To retain their status among the Jewish elite? To hold on to their abundant earthly riches?
Ouch. Can anyone else relate to that? I certainly can.
I can think of many times in my life, including recently, when I've had a chance to speak truth or be a witness for Christ, but I kept my mouth shut. It just didn't seem like the right time. Or I was worried about how the other person would react. Or about the affect it would have on our relationship. What would they think of me? How would it make me look?
As I've thought on this passage for the last week, I've been struck by one thing in particular: these worries and fears that kept Joseph and Nicodemus and me from being a bold disciple of Christ rather than a secret one are so temporal.
Sure, I maintain status in the eyes of the watching world, but I lose the chance to potentially bring another sister into fellowship with her Heavenly Father.
True, I may keep in tact a relationship that I value, but do I really value it that much if I'd rather risk her soul than create a potentially awkward moment between us?
I'm convinced that fear of man over fear of God is one of the greatest tools of the enemy against the spreading of Christ's church. Satan uses our own feelings of inadequacy so that we don't feel well enough equipped to speak the Gospel in truth to our fellow man, fearing not having the right answers or not knowing how to speak, and thus never open our mouths to proclaim Christ. Satan uses our deep desire to be accepted to quiet our tongues for fear of losing status with a friend. Satan uses our want of praise and status to shut us up because we fear ridicule. But dear sisters, we must recognize these thoughts for what they are: lies of the enemy. Because the root of them all is fear.
Immobilizing fear of this kind that prevents us from acknowledging Jesus Christ is not from God. Let's recognize it as such and put those lies to death.
For we are not inadequate to share Jesus with others. Luke 12:11-12 tells us to not be anxious about how we will defend ourselves or what we should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say in that very moment. What greater Helper when we are in need of words than the One who inspired each and every writer of the Holy Bible as they penned our Biblical cannon??
We don't need to fear a loss of status among men: "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first" (Matthew 19:29-30). And in addition to the last being first in the Kingdom of God, as followers of Jesus, we have the greatest status of all: "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:16-17). Fellow. heirs. with. Christ. I have the same status as Christ Jesus in the eyes of God - who cares what man thinks of me?
And ridicule? Well, it actually seems to indicate that we're on the right track:
These fears and lies of the enemy restrained Joseph of Arimathea's and Nicodemus' open worship of Jesus when He walked on this earth. It took the death of the One they refused to stand up for to embolden them to step forward and publicly acknowledge and care of Jesus. So I find myself wondering, what will it take for me to step forward? For you to step forward? Who do I fear: man or God? Where is my hope: here on this temporal earth, or in eternity with my Savior?
O Lord, grant us great faith in all circumstances, that with it we may extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). Move in us, Holy Spirit, to speak and to act and to boldly proclaim the Gospel as often as we may. Embolden us to be out-in-the-open followers of Jesus, going and making disciples for Him (Matthew 28:19). I pray that each one of us would know the height and depth and length and breadth of Your love for us and that our hope would rest there and not in the things of this world (Ephesians 3:18-19). Help us combat the lies of Satan with the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word, O God (Ephesians 6:17b). May we be women of the Word that we may tell the Word to the world without fear and with integrity, clarity, and boldness (Philippians 1:14). In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Kaitlyn is a wife of 5 1/2 years and a mama to two precious girls. She is a worship leader at her church and a group leader with Bible Study Fellowship. Kaitlyn is passionate about sharing life with others. She loves brunch/lunch/coffee/play dates, over-sized sweatshirts, coloring books, and having to double recipes because her table is surrounded by people.