IT’S FRIDAY. BUT SUNDAY’S COMING! Faces Around the Cross: Secret Disciples


Billy Sunday was a 19th century baseball player who became a 20th century evangelist. He  use to tell of a professing Christian who got a job in a lumber camp that had a reputation of being very ungodly. A friend hearing that the man had been hired, said to him, ‘When those lumberjacks find out you’re a Christian, you’re going to be in for a hard time.’ The man responded, ‘I know, but I need the job!’
The next morning he left for camp. A year later, he came home for a visit. While in town, he met his friend who asked, ‘Well, how did it go? Did they give you a hard time because you’re a Christian?’ ‘Oh no, not at all,’ his friend replied. ‘They didn’t give me a bit of trouble – they never even found out I was a Christian.”

Such was the case of this face around the cross.  Mingled in with the blasphemers, revilers and mockers, was this friendly face.  He stood there along with mourners–Mary, John and Mary Magdalene.  He saw the rebellious robber and the repentant robber.  He interacted with brutal Roman soldiers.  He was even there on the Jewish Council when the vote was taken to condemn Jesus.  He abstained.  But silently so.

His name?  Joseph.  Joseph of Arimathea.

All four gospel writers provide information about this intriguing character.

         (1) He was a man of means.  Matthew says he was rich.  This is evidenced by the fact that he owned a rock tomb.  Only the wealthy were buried in this fashion.  Others received a regular burial.

         (2) He possessed a position of influence.  Power.  Clout.  Mark calls him “a prominent council member.”   He was one of only 70 members of the Jewish Supreme Court.  It was composed of Chief Priests, elders, and scribes.  The presiding officer was the High Priest.  So, Joseph occupied a unique place of  honor.  Respect. Esteem.

         (3) He was a person of sterling character.  Luke records that Joseph was a “good and just man.”  Upright.  Righteous.  Virtuous.  He did not agree with the decision to execute Jesus.

         (4) Joseph was a religiously minded man.  He knew something of the law and the prophets.  The promise of the Kingdom.  Both Mark and Matthew wrote that “he was waiting for the Kingdom of God.”

But in spite of all these wonderful qualities, Joseph was lacking in at least one area.  John says that “he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he feared the Jews.”  He was a secret admirer.  A hidden devotee.  A private believer.

But now he comes out!  Out in the open!  His cowardice  gives way to courage.  His fear to faith.  His  reluctance to action. He requests the body of Jesus from Pilate and properly and gently prepares it for burial.  And who is there to help?  None other than Nicodemus, another council member who once came to Jesus by night.

These two powerful men, reluctant in Jesus’ life, become responsive in his death.  And occupy an important place in fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy. (Isa. 53:9).  They risk the friendship of Pilate.  They put in peril their position on the council.  They endanger their standing among the Jews.

In addition, they spare no expense to bury Jesus.  Nicodemus brought fine linens and 75 pounds of myrah and aloes.  An amount normally reserved for royalty.  And in this case it was.  The King of Kings.

What a Friday!  It began for Joseph and Nicodemus in agonizing silence when Jesus was sentenced, but ended in an open display of love. Loyalty.  And faith.

And they didn’t even know Sunday was coming!  What a day that must have been!  As light flashed from the rock hewn tomb!  Darkness is dispelled.  Death is reversed.  The devil is defeated.  And the battered body of Jesus anointed in love by two disciples who are no longer secret, breathes again!

Are you a secret disciple?  A silent believer? A “closet Christian”?  You don’t have to be! Don’t fear what others may think.  Or say.  Or do.  Make this the day of your “coming out.”  Make public your faith.  Temper your fears with courage.  You see, it’s never too late to take a stand for Jesus. To confess Him as Christ.  To minister to Him and for Him.

It’s Friday.  But Sunday’s coming!

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Cross, It's Friday. But Sunday's Coming!

3 responses to “IT’S FRIDAY. BUT SUNDAY’S COMING! Faces Around the Cross: Secret Disciples

  1. Jn. 19:38 does describe Joseph as a “disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews,” and then adds Joseph asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. However, 19:31 has already said that the Jews had asked Pilate that the legs of the bodies on the crosses be broken, and that they might be taken away (in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath). So Joseph’s request does not distinguish him from his fellow Jews. Even after he gets the body, 19:40 tells how Joseph (and Nicodemus) prepared the body according to the burial custom of the Jews; and 19:42 concludes: “So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”

    In other words, Joseph (and Nicodemus) were just doing what the other Jews wanted done. Their secret was still safe. Thus they remain among those whom Jn. 12:42-43 describes: “many of the authorities believed in him (Jesus), but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”


  2. Sandra of Pine Bluff, AR, Church of Christ

    My husband and I agree with the above blog. Time was of the essence due to the Jews’ Preparation Day. And from my readings of parallel scripture, Pilate was not told what they were going to do with the body. Yes, their secret was still safe!


  3. It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before ending I am reading
    this wonderful piece of writing to improve my know-how.


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