Saturday, April 15, 2017
Stepping Out of the Darkness
John 19:38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
The darkness of Jesus’ death was overwhelming to those who had seen him as their hope. There were those who had openly followed him and then there were those who had stayed in the shadows. Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night to learn more about being his disciple. However, in the shadow of the cross Nicodemus emerged from the night and declared his relationship with Christ by the way he responded to his death. He brought an enormous amount of spices to care for Jesus’ body. The cost of these spices publicly revealed his devotion to Jesus Christ. He had now stepped out of the darkness and into the light of following Christ — but was it too late?
Following Jesus requires a commitment on our part to step out of the shadows and into the bright light of following Jesus. Far too many of us may be living in the darkness of this day — Silent Saturday. One can only imagine how the disciples, and all those who loved Jesus felt on this day. If we don’t really believe in the risen Savior, we too will live in the darkness of the unknown. Nicodemus had heard the good news and yet, until the moment he steps out of the darkness and provides a hundred pounds of spices for Jesus’ body we’re just not sure where he stands. This is his moment of faith in Jesus, even when he believes the Jesus is dead.
What would it take for us to step out of the darkness in our relationship with Jesus? Are we willing to live out our faith in the brightness of the day for all the world to see, or are we ashamed of being a Christian? Just this week I was invited to participate on a conference call regarding “The Intersection of Religious Freedom and Women’s Rights.” Most of the discussion was surrounding radical Islam and the result on the rights of women. There are many who are so afraid of radical Islam that they will allow women to suffer because they don’t want to get involved. For instance, we learned that the locations of most of those who were kidnapped by Boko Haram three years ago this week have been identified. We know where these girls are, and yet, no one wants to go and save them because they find it too difficult or too dangerous. In this midst of this conference call one person spoke up and asked whether Christian missionaries were causing problems in the world. The woman who responded was the Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. One sensed that the speaker wanted to embarrass Christian missionaries who may be “interfering with human rights.” I was pleasantly surprised by the response from the Commissioner who refused to say a negative word about Christians. Instead she said that whenever there is a disaster anywhere in the world you will see Christians responding to help. They are the ones, she said, that provide education, health care, and disaster relief. Christians are making a positive impact on our world and there is no need to be ashamed that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.
It’s time for all of us to step out of the darkness and into the light, proclaiming our great love for Jesus. The faith of Nicodemus is amazing as he steps into the light even in the midst of Jesus’ death. He is dwelling in Friday and Saturday, not knowing that Sunday is coming. We know what will happen tomorrow and therefore we don’t have to have the faith of Nicodemus for we can move forward in resurrection power and follow Jesus.
Why live a powerless Christian life, stumbling in the darkness, when we can step out on faith into the light.
Lord, in the silence of this day we wait for you. Amen.