August 22

The Quiet, Courageous Hero

Matthew 26:56b Then all the disciples forsook Him [Jesus] and fled.

Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Mark 16:7-14 “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” …. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid….Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene…. She went and told those who had been with Him…. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them…. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

Matthew 27:57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

Mark 15:43, 46 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus… Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb….

The actions of Jesus’ followers provide a contrasting story around his death. Peter, James and John all fell asleep during Jesus’ agony in the Garden. Peter, who vowed to die with the Lord if necessary, denied him three times. Nearly all of Jesus’ immediate disciples forsook him and fled. Only John was there at his death.

Once He rose, the first people the angel spoke to were so afraid they didn’t do what he asked. When they did tell the disciples, the disciples were filled with “unbelief and hardness of heart,” and Jesus rebuked them for that.

Then take a look at Joseph of Arimathea, a minor figure in the gospels. Unlike the better-known disciples, Joseph “took courage” when others feared, and asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. (Some translations say he went in “boldly.”)

Joseph, “a prominent council member,” put his reputation at risk by not agreeing with the Sanhedrin about Jesus (Luke 23:50) He put his money where his mouth was by supplying everything for His burial. He risked political and possible legal problems by asking the local governmental ruler for the dead body of a perceived criminal, one that had a questionable reputation among the religious leaders.

What an incredible contrast Joseph provides! And what lessons we can learn. One, he took courage when others were seized with fear. He walked the walk, with apparently little talking the talk. He could have been the man James was thinking of when he wrote about the one who was not just a hearer of the word, but a doer (James 1:22-25).

Lastly, we can know that in spite of the behavior of those more visible disciples, God had a quiet, courageous follower in the midst of the most trying time of our Savior’s life, a person who discreetly and unobtrusively followed the Lord under desperately trying circumstances. No matter who might visibly fail, God always has His faithful followers.

Prayer: Lord, let me be like Joseph, who took courage when others were bound by fear. Let me move forward when others are too frightened or distracted to obey. No matter what famous disciple may disappoint or fall, may my eyes be on You as Joseph’s were, quietly but completely doing Your will.

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