Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
Why would someone keep silence so that something that they believed would remain secret? Actually there are many reasons, like fear, peer pressure, and not wanting to appear different from those around you, as well as the high price to pay for being different. But it typically boils down to some form of intimidation. That's how the Nazi’s did it, by making anyone who failed to join lockstep with them with the Hitler Youth movement, or who spoke criticism, or who was not loyal, fear a dreadful visit from the Gestapo. Even mild peer pressure at school can be enough to make “Jew boy,” and other ethnic slurs often foul the air of the school yards. Most of us have felt the pressure to keep silent, rather than expose ourselves to public ridicule for being different or for standing up for what is right, against the majority.
As an introduction to a well-known instance of peer pressure, let me ask you how public you are to let your neighbors, co-workers, and buddies know that you are a disciple of Christ? Do you really want them to know him too? Or are you so afraid that your reputation may suffer, that your fear trumps your care for your friends?
Finally we're going today to look together at a secret disciple who “went public.” Joseph of Arimathea was a chief justice on the Sanhedrin. They're the ones who sought and finally succeeded in putting Jesus to death. They could not tolerate His competition for the hearts of the Jewish people. He was too much competition in His healing relationships with them, as the Sanhedrin promoted control of their own “power-control” traditions and religion. Obviously, like his buddy Nicodemus (who came secretly at night for a consultation with Jesus), Joseph had been greatly influenced by Jesus’ miracles, His compassion that led to healings, and the authority in his speech. But he was not ready to open His mouth and be thrown out of the Sanhedrin. He preferred to enjoy his earthly riches and his influential position without any peer pressure. Let’s detour a minute from Joseph of Arimathea to see what we can learn from Nicodemus in John chapter 3
Just like the hardened Centurion who couldn't help but proclaim, “surely this was the son of God,” similarly Jesus’ unique demeanor under all the stresses of the crucifixion challenged, strengthened, and enabled Joseph to go straight to Pilate, and very publicly request Jesus’ dead body for burial in his unused tomb. Having been silent so long, how easy it would have been to continue in that familiar undetected mode! But this was his “moment of truth” to step forward and be counted, to sellout to Jesus, and support His unique claims that needed to be confirmed, no matter the cost.
So how about you? Isn't it about time for you to sellout and stand up for Jesus? Like the 3 Hebrew children in the king’s furnace, If you stand up, you’ll stand out, and you won’t stand alone!