What is it about the crucial moments that make us decide to rise up and fight? Are we spurred on by the challenge? On the other hand, what makes us crumble and fall short? Do the weight of expectation and the real or imagined scrutiny of those who watch become too heavy to bear?
In the wake of the Easter weekend, there was one character, aside from Jesus, who jumped out at me from the pages of the Bible.
Who was Joseph of Arimathea? Who was this man who took Jesus’ lifeless body from the cross and laid it in his tomb?
Across the four gospels, we find a handful of descriptions—a rich man who followed Jesus (Matthew 27:57), an honored member of the Council, awaiting the coming of God’s kingdom (Mark 15:43), a good and righteous man, who was not in favor of the Sanhedrin’s actions against Jesus (Luke 23:50-51), and perhaps most aptly referred to as a “secret disciple”, dreading judgment from Jewish leaders (John 19:38).
On paper, here was a man who appeared to have it all together. He had the wealth and status, the connections and acceptance in society, even more so the faith and an upright life. Yet none of this human-defined goodness could get him that which he truly desired. Deep inside of him was a yearning for Christ, a hope yet to be revealed. At the same time, there must have been a fear in his heart, of what the consequences of going public with his faith might be, and the opposition that awaited him.
But in that moment when it counted, he summoned the courage to come forward. He went to Pilate—and as the NLT phrases it, “took a risk”, and asked for Christ’s body. And there it was, the disciple from afar, now up close and intimate with Jesus and the ravages and glory of His suffering. A dangerous move, but well worth whatever price would need to be paid.
I wonder how many of us can identify with this man, Joseph.
Could you be among those who have yet to come to Jesus? Those who may not even know what it is they seek in this chaotic world, but find a stirring in their hearts, an ache they cannot put their finger on.
Or are you already a “secret disciple”? Perhaps God has once revealed Himself to you, yet something holds you back from fully embracing Him. Perhaps you have felt God’s love in your life, but earthly trappings make it difficult to grow this relationship.
Then there are those of us following Jesus out in the open, but from time to time forget the reasons why we made a decision in the first place.
Oh, that we would all be willing to make a courageous step and come to Jesus in all humility.
Lord, what joy you bring to those whose heart’s longings are finally revealed and made one with Yours. May all of us who take this risk—who dare to ask the tough questions and be faced with the hard truths—may we truly find You, Lord.
And more than just doing these actions for others to see us—may we open our hearts, so that all may see Christ who lives in us.
Meanwhile, there are those whose courage shines brightly and in full view. I cannot let this week pass without mentioning Courageous Caitie (Caitlin Soleil Lucas), a brave little girl from the Philippines whose life and death have impacted many, including myself, in spite of not having known her personally.
Much has been said about her, but let me share what I will remember—how in the most crucial moments, she rose up, carried by Christ’s strength and love. How she held on even more tightly and did not allow the dark night of suffering to snuff out God’s light in her life.
No “secret disciples” here. Instead of retreating in their anguish, her parents Jay Jay and Feliz Lucas took the risk of letting people into their pain and sharing their hope in Christ. As the events unfolded before our eyes, the hearts of this family in full display, God was glorified and made known in both Caitie’s life and death, for all to see.
“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.”
In Caitie’s short, but nevertheless courageous and joyful life on earth, she stayed close to Jesus, and God kept her faithful to the end, so that others would also be emboldened to come forward, to know Him and embrace Him.