Joseph of Arimathea displays the attribute of godly courage as he comes to Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus after our Lord had died on Good Friday. Notice that in Mark 15:43, Joseph of Arimathea was described as waiting for the kingdom of God. It would appear that his godly longing for the Messiah and the coming of God’s kingdom was the foundation for his gathering up his courage to ask for the body of Jesus. It was not just ordinary courage which we might see exhibited by a police officer, fire fighter, or soldier as he or she risks life and limb to rescue someone, but this is the type of godly courage that is willing to risk social standing and even physical security. Identifying himself with the One who was crucified in this request to Pilate was to put his own safety and security at risk.
Before we can be courageous like Joseph, we must be informed on what is true, beautiful, and good. Courage then is an inner conviction to pursue what is true, beautiful, and good in the sight of God. Godly resolutions and actions flow from that inner conviction.
As Pastor Eric Jorgensen brought God’s Word to us on Sunday, September 18, we were reminded that faithful Christians who take God’s Word seriously in both its teachings and its practices are a minority in our country. Being in the minority is hard. You are not accepted, and people are not comfortable around you. Jesus had forewarned that being loyal to Him as Lord and Savior would bring hardships and cause divisions even within one’s family. Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-38, “34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
Here we have the vulnerable situation where we are to remain loyal to Jesus as Lord which means we are to remain faithful to Christ over and above our loyalty to immediate family members. There would come hard times within Israel and in every age since, when family members would be divided over those who believed in Christ as Messiah and those who did not. Those who did not believe in Jesus as the promised Messiah cut off relations with family members who did believe in Christ as Messiah. This truly was a hard cost to take into account but Jesus reminds those who would take up their cross and follow Him, that our ultimate loyalty must be with Jesus as our Lord and Master. Since God is supreme and Lord of all, may God give us grace to serve Him with godly courage and the inner conviction to love and honor Him above everything else in this life. Let us be willing to identify with the One who died and rose again, even if it means risking our social standing or our personal safety.
I close with the prayer for the 18th Sunday after Trinity, “LORD, we beg You, grant Your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow You, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”