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John 19:38-42 – After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was 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 away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds[f] in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were Pharisees. They were bright, important, influential men who, along with the other Pharisees, had monitored Jesus closely during His ministry. It just so happened that both men came to believe that Jesus was who He said He was. In a sense, both men became “secret believers” of Christ.
That’s what makes these verses in John so significant. At some time during the crucifixion process, Joseph and Nicodemus decided to get the body of Jesus and give Him a proper burial. It was a public sign of respect. They wrapped His body and prepared it with spices, and then, noting that it was getting late and Passover was about to start, they put it in the closest tomb they could. Matthew tells us that it was Joseph’s personal tomb. They sealed the entrance with a stone and went home.
No big deal, right? But it was a big deal. In that moment, these two men moved from the sidelines into the middle of the action. They publicly identified themselves with Jesus Christ, and by doing so, they did more than provide a tomb or even fulfill prophesy. They changed the entire trajectory of their lives.
Think what this cost them. There was no going back now. They were officially branded as “Jesus people”. While we can’t know what this meant for their careers, we can be sure that this was no small thing. It was the moment that two secret “Jesus observers” became “Jesus followers”.
Neither man really knew what that meant. Neither man truly understood Him. I’m pretty sure neither man expected Him to come out of that tomb. Both men decided that they had seen enough. Jesus was TRUTH, and truth demands a response, no matter how much it costs. So at a moment when everyone else was running away, they took a step into the light and embraced Jesus.
There comes a time for each of us when we have to make a move. It’s a day of decision – a day when you have to decide, do I want to identify myself with Jesus. Do I trust Him? Do I believe He is who He said He is?
If you do, respond to the light that you’ve seen and take a step out of the shadows. And then another. Each step will strengthen your resolve for the next. If you’ve seen enough to know that Christ is trustworthy, and you believe that He alone holds the words of truth, take one step towards Him today and see what happens. You will never want to retreat back to the shadows.