Fear is the opposite of faith. If you don’t have faith in God, it is evidence of your fear. What are you afraid of?
38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
I think it is pretty cool that two guys who were secret disciples of Jesus were inspired by His death enough to break through their fears and honor Him the way they did. In Mark 15 we read a little more about Joseph of Arimathea, “43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” Luke, in his research and compilation of the story of Christ discovered that Joseph of Arimathea even dissented against the crucifixion of Jesus. Nicodemus, if we remember from John 3 was also a Pharisee who became a believer and follower of Jesus.
One thing as I read this passage over and over sticks out in my mind from Luke 8, “17 For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Jesus taught that the Light of God within us will eventually shine, even if we try to hide it out of fear. We see these two men who were of the Sanhedrin, the high council of the Jewish religion, were so moved by Jesus’ sacrifice that they finally disregarded their fears and did what was right.
It is hard for us to do this sometimes, isn’t it? I know I struggle with it. Whenever I am confronted with an opportunity to do something for God, for His Kingdom, I am hit with a fear or two. This is what is commonly referred to as the “battle of the flesh”. We see this most explicitly detailed in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, with which he concludes that it is the freedom of Jesus that we get to claim in this battle. Joseph and Nicodemus must have battled intensely with these fears. They were on the religious council that was threatened by the teachings of Jesus. They spent that whole time learning more about Jesus and “waiting for the kingdom of God”.
It was Christ’s death that brought them to the point in their faith that they were able to break through the fear and finally take that step of trust in God. Fear is the opposite of faith. Faith = trust. If we don’t trust God in an area of our lives, that means we have a fear that outweighs our trust in Him. Some of you see this as a problem and need to surrender that fear to God so He can build your faith in that area of your life. Some of you don’t see that as a problem because you only trust in yourself or maybe even others around you.
We tend to want proof of things before we act on them. As Americans, we are inundated with information. While in many cases this tends to be a good thing, I think that it has given us an excuse to not have much faith in anything. We tend to be a “see it to believe it” society. God doesn’t work that way, however. You see in order for us to “see it” we have to give God something to show us His faithfulness with. If we trust Him with something, honestly trust Him (as James explains it), then He will show Himself true and faithful and loving.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
How can you expect God to prove His trustworthiness if you don’t trust Him with anything? As you haughtily sit there with your arms crossed daring God to reveal Himself to you, I wonder how much you actually want that to happen. God doesn’t need us, we need Him.