Inspired by the Weight of Regret
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. — John 19:38
Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned in all four Gospels in connection to this moment. From the other accounts, we can piece together that he was a member of the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43). He was described as wealthy and interested in the kingdom (Luke 23:51). Matthew and John talk about how Joseph was definitely a believer in Jesus (Matthew 27:57). Still, John says he kept it secret because he was afraid of the other religious leaders (John 12:42-43).
However, after Jesus is crucified, we witness a change in Joseph. He seems inspired by the situation and courageously asks Pilate for Jesus's body. Usually, executed criminals are left exposed for vultures to feed on, but Joseph takes a bold step, using his influence to approach and persuade Pilate.
Joseph probably knew that if Jesus's family were in Jerusalem for Passover, they wouldn't have dared to ask for Jesus's body. And Pilate would have probably refused them anyway. I am sure Joseph's request and actions didn't sit well with some members of the Sanhedrin. But the fact that Pilate granted this request is shocking. It subtly suggests that Pilate still believed Jesus was innocent. Therefore, I think he agrees as a final act of defiance against the manipulation of the Jewish leaders.
This situation draws attention to something that has convicted me in recent years.
We need more men like Joseph. I need to be a man more like him. I want to be a man willing to take steps that put my reputation at risk for the truth about Jesus. I am tired of being a man who plays to the pressure of the crowd. I need to be a man more willing to speak the truth from a place of passion and not a position of regret. Joseph felt the weight of this regret and grew passionate because of it. He felt the weight of saying nothing and doing nothing because he was trying to preserve his reputation, influence, and position. And I know this is true. Listen to what John said way back in chapter twelve:
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. — John 12:42-43
So, the weight of regret inspired Joseph. Because he was so irritated with himself, he took holy action that would potentially risk his reputation, influence, and position.
And we, as God-fearing men, need to get a little irritated with the passivity within ourselves. We have stood on the sidelines long enough. So today, here are some options for you to consider:
Stop Being Silent by Speaking Truth With Greater Boldness: Just as Joseph took a stand, don't be afraid to speak the truth even when it's unpopular. Share your faith with others, engage in meaningful conversations, and don't shy away from your beliefs.
Leverage Influence to Defend Righteousness: Like Joseph used his position to help Jesus, use your influence and resources to defend righteousness. Your influence should be used to expand godly purposes.
Stand Up by Standing Against: Doing what's right sometimes requires us to stand against a wrong. Don't be afraid to stand up for justice, integrity, and moral values, even if it means facing criticism or backlash. Jesus was criticized and received a backlashing for you.
Show Compassion by Giving Generously: Joseph showed compassion by giving Jesus a proper burial. Extend that same compassion to those around you. Help a friend, lend a hand to someone struggling, and be a source of comfort to those facing hardships.
Stop Hiding Your Faith by Sharing It Openly: Joseph was initially a secret follower of Jesus but eventually made his faith known. Share your faith more today than yesterday. Be open about your struggles and victories. Your testimony will inspire and encourage others.
Being a man of faith involves taking risks, just like Joseph did. The action you take is not always going to be popular. But they will impact others and on your own spiritual growth. So, step out in faith and stop being a coward who lives in fear.
Reflect on the story of Joseph of Arimathea's transformation from a secret follower to a bold advocate for Jesus. Have you ever felt the weight of regret for not standing up for your faith or principles when you had the chance? Share a personal experience if you're comfortable. What are some situations in your life where you feel called to take a bolder stand for your beliefs, even if it means risking your reputation or comfort?
The devotional provides practical steps to follow in the footsteps of Joseph of Arimathea. Which of these steps resonates with you the most, and why? Is there one specific action you feel compelled to take in your life right now to be more courageous in living out your faith? How can you encourage and support each other within your small group or community to take these steps together?
DO THIS: Take a step of faith, and don't be a coward.
PRAY THIS: God, grant me the courage to follow the example of Joseph of Arimathea, to speak truth boldly, and take actions that may risk my reputation, all in the name of living out my faith and standing up for what is right. Help me overcome fear and passivity, and may my life be a testament to your glory.
PLAY THIS: Same God.
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