Holy Week #17: What is the personal application we can learn from Joseph of Arimathea?

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were moved by fear. They feared ridicule, social ostracism  and the possible expulsion from Sanhedrim and the synagogue. The two of them sat in silence as the council’s scornful question was asked, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?” (John 7:48) They ought to have jumped to their feet and said ‘Yes, we have!’ Instead Nicodemus gave a feeble reply, “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him?” (v 51) All it took was just one contemptuous question to reduce him to silence. “Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” (vs 52) That little question was enough to force Nicodemus into silence, dropping his timid plea for the man he believed to be the Messiah.

How many of us have beliefs about social or moral questions which we are ashamed to confess publically, out of fear of the finger of ridicule being pointed at us? We not only find this curse of secret discipleship in the Church, but it is everywhere today. People fear confrontation and getting involved because they want to maintain their personal peace and affluence. They are “secret disciples,’ whose convictions are only personal and they will only come out of their holes when the battle is over, and then they will shout the loudest with the victors. Very few people are willing to endure uncivil ridicule and condemnation.

Have you ever dared to stand alone? Ridicule breaks no bones. Ridicule has no power, if you make up your mind that it shall not have any. Ridicule is only unpleasant for a moment at the beginning. It’s like when a child wades out into the ocean to swim. He fears the cold water only until his head goes under water, and then after that, the ocean no longer bothers him. And so it is with the ridicule which Christian faithfulness may bring upon us. It only hurts at the beginning, and people very soon get tired. Face your fears and Christ will lift you up into His presence where you will be hidden and protected in the cleft of the Rock. At that point the worst thing that can happen is that your body will die and you will remain forever in God’s presence, which is far better!

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