Before the Sabbath started, the religious leaders wanted to make sure the none of the three crucified were still on the crosses. Once Jesus was taken off the cross, Joseph and Nicodemus, who had been watching all this take place, went to Pilate to get Jesus’ body.
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
They wanted to give him a proper burial.
This was generous of them, because it included the donation of a tomb. These men were followers of Jesus, yet they lived in fear because of their positions and because of the power of the religious leaders.
There are a lot of people in our world who are afraid to reveal that they follow Jesus. In some countries, Christians are killed. In other countries, Christians are driven out and they become refugees without a home. In our country, we have freedom and can follow Jesus without fear.
Even in a position of fear, however, we can find a way to honour and adore Jesus. We can find a way to worship and offer sacrifice to our Lord. These men went quietly to ensure Jesus was given a fitting burial. I’m certain over the coming days they also used their influence as the church grew to stand up for the cause of Christ. At the right time, I am sure they became part of the local church in public.
It would be easy to criticize people for secretly following Christ, yet I trust that the Holy Spirit is working in each of us to guide our actions. For Nicodemus and Joseph, they were guided to honour Jesus and were able to because of their secret. If they were publicly followers, perhaps their contemporaries would have blocked their access to Pilate or worse.
As long as secret Christians are seeking to honour God and listening to the Holy Spirit in terms of when and how they should stand up, I have no judgment. There is a time for martyrdom, and there is a time for quiet discipleship. Let the Spirit guide.
And pray for those who are at risk of losing their lives for believing in Jesus Christ.