“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews . . .”
Many times I have read this passage and thought how this possibly contradicts the passage that records Jesus’ words, “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory . . .”
One day I realized that these two verses were not in contradiction, because if Joseph of Arimathea had been ashamed of Christ Jesus, he would never have come forth to ask for the Lord’s body. It is implied that Nicodemus was also a secret disciple because he joined Joseph to present themselves publicly to receive Christ’s body.
As I think of the early Christians and the persecutions they encountered from the Jews and Roman authorities, I am reminded of Elijah (of the Old Testament) who also expressed fear because of his faith in God, and his message of faith. The Israelites were killing prophets which caused Elijah to respond to the Lord, “. . . I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too.” The Lord responded, “I have seven thousand (unknown yet available believers) in Israel whose knees have not bowed down to Baal . . .”
How many are there in the work place who are characterized as “secret saints”? If we could know the hearts of people as God does, we would be amazed at the number of believers in Christ Jesus.
Often we find ourselves like Joseph, Nicodemus, and Elijah, afraid to let our faith in Christ Jesus be known. We fear how others will respond. Yet, God has planted His people all around us. Some are more vocal and public about their faith than others, but at the precise moment they are called on to take a stand for Him, there they are. Like Joseph and Nicodemus, they can be counted on. The Lord is able to draw them out to meet the needs of others: To be there when someone needs a financial boost. To be there when there is a need for encouragement. When someone needs comforting words, there they are. They are there to pray with someone who is hurting.
May we never take the attitude of Elijah, “I am the only one.” It’s for certain we are not all alike. Some have been believers in Christ Jesus for years and others are new babes in Christ. Both have different spiritual maturity levels. Though some are more public about their faith in Him than others, neither group is alone.
- Look for a “secret saint” this week and build a Christian relationship with them.
- Take a new step and let others know that you know Jesus Christ.