What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? For The Twelve it meant three years of close companionship and lessons learned at the Master’s knee. Yet, for all that time and effort what did they do when Jesus was arrested? They ran and abandoned him. Those who had been given the most couldn’t even keep their own promise to stand by him (Peter). Yet we read that Joseph of Arimathea, member of the Sanhedrin, Pharisee, a rich man had become a disciple of Jesus: he who had the most to lose was willing to risk all.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus-making himself vulnerable before the occupying Roman Governor. In the sight of those who had mocked his master he took Christ’s tortured body and placed him in his own tomb. He didn’t try to obscure his trail so as to hide his real allegiances. What faith and loyalty! In the face of open hostility he trusted God to be his defender and did what was right and honorable.
Folks, I want to be that kind of disciple. But I must confess that too often I’m like the Twelve. When the heat is applied I melt away and heat will be applied. As recent current events have shown us the world will give believers a hard time (as the flap over Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson has shown)—yet we also saw that when Christians stood up for their faith the world backed down. We live in a time when free speech and religious freedom is enshrined in law, yet too often we meekly duck our heads. Joseph of Arimathea had no such safe guards—he risked all for Christ.
What type of disciple do you want to be? I pray that by God’s grace in Christ Jesus we will be more like Joseph of Arimathea and less like the Twelve. Joseph remained faithful even before Christ’s resurrection—let’s be like him! Yet remember the twelve were transformed by the risen Lord—that is the Lord we serve: who died for our sins, was buried and then on the third day raised to life by the power of God, who has been given all power and authority in heaven and on earth. Let’s stop ducking and start standing for Christ—not using the world’s weapons, but in the power of God’s love let us put on our spiritual armor and through faithfulness defeat the evil one.
Rise up O men of God! Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings. (Rise Up, O Men of God-Merrill)
Walled Lake Church of Christ
Walled Lake, Michigan