Lenten Devotional

March 30, 2018

All Day

Category: Adult Education

John 19:38-42

Commitment

We know that Good Friday is good because we have the advantage of hindsight. What a gift that is. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had no way of knowing what was to come. They may have been present when Jesus was teaching about his resurrection and the plans of God, but even the closest disciples struggled to understand Good Friday and its meaning. How could they know? It seems safe to assume this deed recorded in John 19 was from the goodness of their hearts, or maybe they felt guilt, maybe they were ashamed.

Am I too cynical? It is difficult for me to believe that two men who were wealthy and powerful–they provided a tomb, bought expensive oils and treatments–did this only for the good of Jesus, a now deceased prophet.

We learn in verse 38 that Joseph feared the Jewish leaders and in John 3 we see that Nicodemus failed to understand the elementary teachings of Christ. They may have admired Jesus, desired to know him more, and with everything inside of them wanted to commit to Jesus’ commands, but they never did, at least not fully. But isn’t complete commitment exactly what Jesus called for? Some have said this deed was heroic and they were no longer hiding in the shadows anymore, that they should be praised. Yet they went to Pilate for the body after dark, nowhere in the Gospels does it say these two men wanted to proclaim their faith. Were they feeling guilty or ashamed with their lack of action to intervene in the death of an innocent man? Some may argue the financial gift showed great belief and faith; is a financial gift or monetary commitment evidence of saving faith? Maybe they were guilty and ashamed, or maybe they finally decided to stand for their faith. We cannot know for certain. 

While this may seem pessimistic, allow me to bring encouragement on this Good Friday. We have all failed to proclaim Christ at different times in life. We have all been fearful. Sometimes it may have even felt it was too late to repent, or potentially beyond forgiveness. Yet here we are on Good Friday. Jesus has died. Jesus has given himself freely for the very forgiveness we all desire and rely upon. How do you respond to that gift?

Whether you have put your life on the line for Christ, or you have stayed in the background for fear of what others may think, what is your response to Christ giving his life for the forgiveness of your sins? Be not ashamed. We all must respond. Christ awaits your response, even now. Nicodemus and Joseph responded. Whether they acted or were prompted by guilt or faith, we cannot know for certain. Still, they decided to do something. What will you do?

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