And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
There was no hiding now. They could be secret disciples no longer. They had believed on Jesus but held their peace when others had spoken out against Him. They wanted to follow Jesus, but then they were afraid of what people would think, what people would say, what it might cost them. So they pretended, perhaps, not to know Him, not to love Him, not to desire to hear Him speak and sit and talk with Him. They stood with the Pharisees instead of the disciples, watching from afar, afraid to be associated with Jesus of Nazareth.
But now after Jesus’ death, after that horrifying spectacle, after His body was so mangled and abused, they take their chance and step forward. No longer would they be able to hide their association with Him. This very intimate task of burying His body would leave them with bloodstains on their clothes, the smell of those burial spices all over them. Now everyone would know. Everyone would see them taking Jesus’ body and carrying it to the tomb. But now all those fears seemed so fruitless. Now the shame was not in knowing Him, but not being closer to Him while He was still alive.
Are we willing to step out of the shadows and proclaim our allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we ashamed to bear His name or call ourselves Christians? Are we afraid to be identified with Him because of what other people might think about us or say to us or do to us because we choose to follow Him? Maybe we don’t want to cause conflict. Maybe we’re afraid to take a stand. Maybe we don’t want to face persecution. Maybe something else is more important to us and we’d rather be identified by those things instead.
May we be willing to boldly proclaim our faith in Christ to those around us by our words and our actions. We don’t have to fear the society around us or the people who won’t like us anymore if they know we’re Christians. We don’t have to worry so much about what people think. But may we, like Joseph and Nicodemus, identify ourselves with the death of Christ, accept Him totally as our own, and dedicate ourselves to Him. He wasn’t ashamed of us when we were so unlovable. He wasn’t embarrassed to reach out to us when we were at our worst. So let us not be ashamed to call Him our own and do all we can to share Him with the world.