Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Moment

He felt like he was suffocating. Joseph tugged at the collar of his tunic. Suddenly the loose fabric felt like a noose around his neck. He glanced nervously at the guards walking on either side of him. They held their spears casually, but Joseph knew that if he made one wrong move, he would be turned into a skewer.

He had been granted an audience with Pilate.

The large doors scrapped open, and Joseph was ushered into the chamber. Column's lined the sides of the walls, and sitting on a raised platform was a large, throne-like couch. Pilate reclined on the couch. The guards escorted Joseph closer to Pilate, and then stopped. Joseph caught a whiff of meat being roasted somewhere else in the palace.

Once the guards stopped, Joseph dropped to his knees and bowed towards Pilate.

"Rise." Joseph scrambled to his feet, his heart thudding in his chest as Pilate studied him. "What is it that you want?"

Joseph took a deep breath. "My Lord, I wish to be granted the body of Jesus."

He could see Pilate's raised eyebrows, and the thundering in his heart grew louder. Was Pilate going to kill him now?

Pilate stood and took three steps towards Joseph. "Why?"

"I wish to take his body and prepare it for burial."

"Yes, I understand that. Why?"

This was it. There was no more avoiding it. This was the moment. "I am a disciple of Jesus, or rather, I have been secretly. I...feared, uh...." Words faltered Joseph, and he closed, opened, and then closed his mouth again.

To his surprise, Pilate nodded like he understood what Joseph was trying to communicate.

"You may take his body." With that, Pilate turned away, and Joseph found himself being escorted from the chamber by the guards.

Based on John 19:38

I've always really wondered one thing about this. Why was the secret disciple taking care of the body of Jesus? Where was everyone else? Where were the ones who were devoted to Jesus? It didn't fully hit me until I was writing this, and imaging this moment from Joseph's perspective. There can't be any secret disciples, just like there can't be any disciples who are devoted in the good times and not in the bad.

You have to be fully devoted.

I don't know if Joseph of Arimathea had enough clout in the Roman Empire that he could just ask for the body of Jesus, no questions asked, and be given it. I tend to doubt it. I realized that this was a huge moment for Joseph. He was going before the man who, as far as he understood the situation, sentenced Jesus to death. What if this request got him killed, too? What if Pilate asked why? What would he say?

This was the moment where Joseph's faith had to come out of the closet. This was the moment where he stood up and said he was a follower of Jesus. This was the moment he fully devoted himself to Jesus, and stopped trying to serve in secret.

Guys, are we trying to serve God in secret? Are we hiding? Are we scared of what other people will think?

"Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24

Isn't God worth it to stop pretending for Him? People who are fully devoted to God tend to ruffle some feathers. They are not politically correct. They are not always well liked. They are not silent when it comes to their faith. They are not secret Christians. They are bold, devoted, known Christians. Just like Joseph, we all have a moment. A moment where we stop trying to toe the line, and just live fully for God.

Will you live up to your moment?

V. Joy Palmer

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