“…Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews.” (John 19:38 NIV)
I don’t know that I’ve ever shared my testimony on my blog. It began nearly twenty two years ago when I moved away from my family to start my new life in Florida. (This makes me feel old!) I had come here on vacation for a week and decided this was where I wanted to live. I lived with a friend my mother used to work with who was a Christian. I hardly knew her and I certainly didn’t know anything about Florida except that it was sunny. But I moved here hoping to get a teaching job. Within two weeks of being here, I became curious about my roommate’s relationship with God. It seemed like more than just a Sunday morning trek to church. She didn’t view anything she did as a duty, but rather a lifestyle. Before I knew it I was reading her Bible while she was gone. The funny thing was, I never asked her about it. I simply read. I started on page one of Genesis and read each day and would remember what page I was on so I could continue the next page. Secretly, I searched for Jesus.
I’m reading through John these days during Lent. I came across this scripture. My first reaction is to think of Joseph of Arimathea as a coward. He didn’t stand up for Jesus, he kept his relationship quiet. So did Nicodemus for that matter. I started to wonder whether these men honestly loved Jesus. Were they committed to him? If they were his disciples (followers) why weren’t they out there with Him? But then I noticed that Joseph stepped forward to ask for the body of Jesus. He and Nicodemus prepared and buried Jesus as their custom required. I don’t know that any of the other disciples knew what to do. And if they did, were they able according to Jewish custom to do what Joseph and Nicodemus did? I think the positions they held allowed them to take the body of Jesus and prepare it properly. The fact that they were men who followed and believed in Jesus gave them the courage to step forward and do what needed to be done.
As I was coming to Christ, I was very secretive. I didn’t want the world to know I had chosen to follow Him. I had people I barely knew praying for me. And when I finally came forward to tell the world I had decided to follow Jesus, everyone around me celebrated. They didn’t call me a coward for secretly reading the Bible. They didn’t scold me for not doing things the way they had. They simply celebrated in my new birth. In the story of Joseph and Nicodemus, I see how God even used their secrecy for His purpose. Had they been with the other disciples, the body of Jesus may not have been released to them. But instead, they were able to take special care in preparing the body. They were able to do what no other disciple could do.
I LOVE the fact that God uses us where we are. We don’t have to be “Super-Christian” to be used by God. He doesn’t have a set way of doing things. Each relationship is different. Each testimony is different. For me, my relationship remained a secret until I had to courage to come forth. I think it was the same for Joseph and Nicodemus. But God used their secrecy because He knew their hearts. I wonder if they remained secretive after they saw that Jesus had risen. They were the last to touch the body of Christ. I wonder if they became best friends because of what they had done. I wonder if in secret they continued to talk about all that Jesus taught. The Bible doesn’t say. We will never know. But this I know, my relationship with Jesus also started secretly.