When Fear Gives Way to Faith


Who stayed behind to look after the body of Jesus and provide for His burial? Surely Peter was there right? Alongside the other disciples who had loudly proclaimed their love for Christ. They had identified with Jesus publicly for three years. Their identification with the Savior wouldn't cease now would it? But somewhat ironically, it does. They are nowhere to be found. So, who stayed behind?


It has always blown me away that, besides Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus, the only others to attend to Jesus' body and publicly identify with Jesus immediately following His death were Pharisees--Joseph and Niccodemus (John 19:38-39). These men were religious leaders who had come to see the truth in what Christ had taught, but up until this point, had cowered in fear about publicly identifying with Him. They were probably worried about what it would cost them, what others would think, and how it might change their lives. John records how Joseph had kept his faith a secret--fearful of what the Jews and his peers would think and do to him. And do you remember when Niccodemus came to see Jesus? Under the cloak of darkness. Unwilling to be seen by others conversing with Christ. Two men who approached the truth and revelation of God in His Son with cowardice. But suddenly, that all changes.


What Can We Learn From Who Stayed Behind?


Jesus transforms lives. And there is usually some time that passes between the sowing of the Word of God and that transformation. If we were to observe Joseph and Niccodemus during Jesus' earthly ministry, we would likely conclude that they didn't truly love Jesus. They acted cowardly and appeared to cling onto a religious system that Jesus came to destroy. But we would be wrong. That cowardice gave way to courage; fear gave way to faith. When Jesus' disciples abandoned Him, these men were there--which seemed unlikely to happen. I think there is a simple lesson in this. Maybe we should exercise caution when passing judgment on other's souls. We never know what the Holy Spirit is doing and when a person's moment of transformation will take place.


They were Pharisees. Don't miss the fact that these men were Pharisees--a group Jesus harshly rebuked and spoke to in an entirely different manner than He did to anyone else. But Jesus rescued these two Pharisees. Throughout the New Testament we see Jesus rescuing all types of people. The lowly, outcast, crooked, demonized, sick, poor, and those who had totally disregarded God's truth. But here, we see Jesus rescuing two respectable and successful men from an equally devastating bondage--religion. Oh what a glorious freedom is felt when one quits trusting in their "goodness" and looks to the perfection of Christ to justify and cover their sin! Everyone needs rescued from sin and it tends to look a little different for each person. And Jesus is willing to rescue anyone.


Hope


May we also find our fear replaced with faith. I like to think that if I was present at Jesus' burial, I would have stayed behind. But that's probably not true. Why? Because I know all the times I presently cower and let fear dictate my heart and actions. But these two men give me hope.


From their story I see that cowardice can be turned into courage and fear can give way to faith.