6/12: Come Out of the Closet

I once heard a pastor introduce his sermon by making a confession. He stunned the congregation by saying he was coming out of the closet; he was hopelessly in love with a man. Without any further hesitation, he even told us who that man was. The man with whom the pastor had an intimate relationship was Jesus Christ. Of course, having heard this pastor preach before, and having watched his exemplary life, we in the congregation that day knew that the preacher’s relationship with Jesus had never been a secret.

The story was different for two important Biblical characters we find together in John 19:38-39. “After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds” (NKJ).

Joseph of Arimathea is the first man of interest to us today. According to About.com/Christianity, Joseph was “a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, the court which condemned Jesus to death. Joseph risked his reputation and his life by standing up for Jesus, but his faith far outweighed his fear.” But why would this man suddenly stick his neck out and provide his own personal tomb for the Man his group had condemned? Mike Ford of Forerunner states some additional interesting ideas:

  • The Jewish Talmud records that Joseph was the great-uncle of Jesus, a younger brother of Mary’s father! In The Traditions of Glastonbury, E. Raymond Capt cites evidence that Joseph was an international merchant involved in the tin trade in the British Isles… Such a position would… explain how Joseph was able to so easily gain an audience with Pilate. He was a prominent man in both the Roman and Jewish worlds. There is [also] strong circumstantial evidence that Joseph was a Roman citizen.
  • Joseph awaited the Kingdom and thought Jesus was the Messiah, yet he kept his beliefs to himself. He was a “secret” disciple for “fear of the Jews.” Was this fear for his life, for his family or for his position? Maybe all three. This was a tough spot for Joseph of Arimathea! All his life he had worked to attain the level of success that he enjoys. When he reaches middle age, he has a great nephew come along who just may be the Messiah. He watches Jesus grow up, maybe even helps the process. (Joseph of Arimathea by Mike Ford of
Forerunner, May 2001, © 2001 Church of the Great God, http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/ Library.sr/ CT/artb/k/24/Joseph-of-Arimathea.htm)

The second secret saint was Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin and a Pharisee. After the Council had obviously been talking amongst themselves about Jesus, we are first introduced to Nicodemus when he approaches Jesus by night in John chapter three. He starts by saying, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God” (John 3:2 NKJ). Jesus then engages Nicodemus in the famous conversation about the necessity of being born again. (Quite interestingly too, is the fact that it is in this conversation that Jesus states the most well-known words of all of Scripture, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…”) For some reason, by chapter 19, like Joseph, Nicodemus no longer saw the need to hide his devotion to Jesus.

It’s not stated outright why Joseph and Nicodemus mustered up the courage to openly display their devotion to Jesus by taking care of His body after the crucifixion. One answer seems obvious to me though. These two men had watched Jesus’ ministry and realized that “no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him” (John 3:2 NKJ, spoken by Nicodemus). They were convinced by Jesus’ words that He was who He said He was. And they watched Him do what no other could do. Joseph and Nicodemus were also, no doubt, eyewitnesses to the resurrected Lord, and were probably counted among the 120 in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, there to welcome the arrival of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-4).

Jesus has not changed. His words and actions are just as convincing today as they always have been. Do not be ashamed of your faith in God any longer. Like Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and even the pastor whose sermon I heard, come out of the closet as a lover of the Savior.

________________________

©2013 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

And pick up a copy of Sharon’s new book, Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame, available at Christian bookstores, online, from New Hope Publishers, from the Life That Matters Ministries’ website, and now also available on Kindle!

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~ by sanewriter on June 12, 2013.

One Response to “6/12: Come Out of the Closet”

  1. I will concur with that…witness for our Lord.

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