Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Is “secret believer” an oxymoron?

Wednesday 8-17-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Jer 23, 25     John 19
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  John 19:38-41 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being 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 the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. NKJV

O.  Two men of influence and leadership, believed in Jesus, but never dared to declare their faith in Him, since they knew they would lose their social position. Now, after He is dead and gone forever, as far as they know, they come out of hiding to ask Pilate for permission to prepare Jesus’ body and bury him.  So they bind the body of Jesus tightly in long strips of linen, filling the binding as they went with costly spices to delay the stench of decomposing flesh.  When Lazarus was brought back to life he was unable to unloose himself.  Jesus had to order that he be loosed by others.  Now when Jesus came back into his pierced and mutilated body, with arms bound tightly at his side, how did He get out that Sunday morning?  Ask Jesus.

A.  Two secret believers, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, kept their mouths shut as their colleagues cried, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” When I am surrounded by my unbelieving friends and they blaspheme or mock the name of Jesus, do I dare to speak up?

I was 17 years old when I took a job at Peyton-McDowell Bag Factory in Portland.  At coffee-break all the men gathered at my machine to tell dirty jokes and laugh. They knew I was a Christian and were watching to see if I would laugh along with them. I have never repeated those nasty jokes to anyone, yet some of them are permanently fixed in my mind. I was bashful and very timid. When asked, I could stand up for Jesus, but I am ashamed that I never took the initiative to defend my Savior in the presence of His enemies. 

In my country the days are coming, yes, and very close, when every person who stands up openly to defend Jesus’ teaching, will pay a steep price.  He or she will lose their teaching job at the high school or be humiliated and perhaps demoted from a position of authority to that of a slave.  Our forefathers escaped to this continent to found a new country with real freedom of religion. It appears that those days will soon be gone forever and there is nowhere to escape.  We who follow Jesus openly and verbally, will be persecuted.

P. Oh Lord Jesus, You said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38 NIV) Lord, I confess that I have been a wimp.  Make me into Your bold, courageous defender.  Amen.


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