Monday, June 26, 2017

The Cross and Our Commitment

The cross should be life changing for all of us.

John 19:38-42 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus' body.

When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.

40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus' body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. 41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

For the past three years there have been crowds of people eager to follow Jesus everywhere that he went, just a week ago there were plenty of people that cheered for him as they declared him to be their Messiah, but where is everybody now? Where are the people that saw Jesus call Lazarus out of his tomb?

I remember there used to be a powerful group of seventy disciples that Jesus sent out to do a short term mission trip. This group gave up their time, left their families and their stuff behind to obey Jesus command to go, they returned with awesome testimonies but then they are never mentioned again. (Luke 10:1-24)

Even the twelve that spent almost every moment for three years with Jesus, only one came to the cross to be with Jesus mother in her darkest hour, they had given up so much to follow and yet now they are gone.

The small group at the cross was probably shocked to learn that two people from Jesus past stepped back into the picture to give Jesus a proper burial. These two guys had encounters with Jesus earlier but they didn't reach a decision until later on and they never came forward and expressed their conviction or show any commitment to Jesus.

It seems likely that Joseph and Nicodemus have been in the garden waiting for Jesus death, the tomb site so close to Golgotha made it unlikely that this tomb was ever intended for a rich man like Joseph, it was the best location to bury Jesus body quickly, so they waited in secret nearby with the spices already prepared.
When they took Him from the cross, they defiled themselves and were not able to eat the Passover. But, what difference did it make? They had found the Lamb of God!
-Warren Wiersbe
It seem like these guys planned ahead to work as a team on the burial.  The work that they set out to do could not be done in secret, they had to get Jesus buried in the daylight before Passover began. They would be found out but they didn't care, they were no longer ashamed to be identified as believers. While every other disciple was hiding out these two guys were coming out of hiding and stepping up their commitment to Jesus.

We do not know what happened to make them realize that Jesus is who he claimed to be. I have to wonder when these two men got it and decided that Jesus is the Messiah. They did what we all need to do, they showed courage and faith at record levels. These two would have to miss this Passover because they were considered unclean but that didn't matter anymore since this was the last lamb that would ever need to be sacrificed.

We do not know what happened to these two as a result of coming out to honor Jesus. Any show of sympathy for a condemned criminal could bring trouble on yourself. How would Pilate react? What about the other religious leaders? There must have been a price to pay at the office when the rest of the guys found out about the work that these two had done to give Jesus a proper burial. The rest of the religious leaders must have scorned them and they probably lost their jobs and were not allowed in enter the synagogue ever again.
John 12:42-43  Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.
It is remarkable that the secret disciples came out of hiding like first responders running toward trouble despite the consequences. When everybody else ran and hid these two reached a new level of commitment and dedication to Jesus.

It is easy to assume that a weak brother cannot be used for the Lord's purpose but it isn't our job to judge him and put him down for his struggle. You would think that the weaker brother would be the first one in hiding but they overcame their fear and openly followed Jesus.
Ask yourselves whether you have sometimes held your tongues because you knew that if you spoke people would find out where you came from and what country you belonged to. Ask yourselves, Have you ever accompanied the witness of your lives with the commentary of your confession? Did you ever, anywhere but in a church, stand up and say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, my Lord’?

When these men came for Christ’s corpse and bore it away, what a sharp pang went through their hearts! How much these two men lost-all those three years of communion with the Master; all His teaching, all the stimulus of His example, all the joy of fellowship with Him! Neglect of duty puts barriers up between you and God.
There isn't any room in the kingdom for secret disciples. You can be a secret sports fan or a secret follower of a particular social or political issue and then come out when the battle is over and squawk loud about your belief in the cause but where were you during the battle?

The cross should be life changing to the point that silence and hiding out should never be an option. How can we look upon Jesus and realize the evils and terrors that he went through for our sake and keep our love for him silent? How can we serve him without passion and excellence?

Stir a passion in my heart, God
Let it overflow, let it overflow!