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Silent, Secret, or Sold Out

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

  • Why would Nicodemus seek Jesus out a night?  Same peer pressure reasons as Joseph of Arimathea
  • Later what does the Bible say about Nicodemus?  He was a SECRET disciple of Jesus
  • What main thing did Jesus say to Nicodemus?  You must be born again (spiritually), i.e. you are supposed to be a master teacher but you are still in spiritual kindergarten
  • Did Nicodemus understand Jesus?  Not at first; he thought Jesus was talking about physical birth, not spiritual birth
  • Why did Nicodemus not understand?  Because humans understand ONLY what God reveals to them by His spirit
  • What will it take for you to understand spiritual things, like how to go to heaven?  God looks at our hearts.  Only when He sees us willing to obey what He shows us, will He then reveal His will and way to us
  • This is like your boss who gives the main jobs to those he knows he can depend on to do a good job
  • How many know that you do not truly know God personally today?  How many do NOT know that if you died tonight you would then be with Christ in heaven?
  • Review the Persian Proverb “3 states of knowing”
  • I invite now, those who do not yet know God, to come to God to be saved from the consequences of sin, and then you will KNOW you are on your way to heaven

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!

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