Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. ~John 19:38
I've always thought that Joseph of Arimathea did something good. After all, he overcame his fear of the Jewish leaders and generously took care of Jesus' body after death. He even laid him in his own personal tomb!
But this morning I read this a bit differently. What if he wasn't trying to take off his mask and finally reveal himself for who he was - what if he hadn't overcome his fear of the consequences - but had given up on Jesus?
What if Joseph decided that it didn't matter anymore what the leaders thought because Jesus was dead and so He really wasn't the Messiah anyway? What if he just decided to be nice to a man so gruesomely murdered?
Either way, I guess he did do something good. He still generously cared for an earthly body that needed a place to rest.
I don't think we can ever really be sure, this side of heaven, which it is. (Though if there's a Bible scholar out there who knows, please share.)
But Joseph's actions make me question mine. Joseph had a heart condition - he allowed fear of earthly consequences and the opinions of people to rule over his love for Jesus.
Jesus was right there - in his town, in his church, walking his streets - and he didn't acknowledge Him, didn't help Him, didn't sit at His feet and learn.
As a member of the high council, Joseph could have answered questions. He must have been respected. He had much to lose, but many to help - to show the way.
Joseph was too afraid to let his true heart be known.
Will I live that way?
Will I let fear of consequences, fear of rejection, fear of public opinion, change my actions, my responses, my ability to share God's love with those around me?
Can people look at me and know that I believe, that my heart is not my own?
Will I be known for my fear or my faith?
How can I live that out today?