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Summary: My talk today will help you understand where you are on your faith journey. It may help you see that you are not a hopeless case. You may believe you have already decided not to be a Christ follower. You may think you have crossed some imaginary line a

S021702 Coming out for Jesus John 19:38-40

Beginning:

Let’s begin with an Evergreen Drama ministry presentation about a person interested in Jesus getting close and then turning away.

In the book of Acts a man named Felix told Paul that he was almost persuaded to be a Christian. You can’t almost be a Christian. But you can change your mind later and come to Christ after rejecting him before.

Background

In the Gospels we are allowed a sneak peek into the process of disbelief reversing itself and becoming faith. We can track two men who were transitioning into faith, but seemingly hit a deal breaker and went away without faith. There is a huge surprise hidden in the Gospels concerning these two men. We are led to believe they decided to pass on Jesus’ deal, yet later we realize they went public with their faith.

Meet Nicodemus:

We first encounter young Nic. early in the Gospel of John. He has some money and power. He would be a cross between a member of the Supreme Court and Congressman or Senator in Washington in our culture.

He approached Jesus in private hoping for a Rabbi-to-Rabbi exchange of ideas.

It didn’t go well. Jesus was not impressed with Nic. and said if he wanted to enter the Kingdom of God he would have to be born again, give away all he had and follow Jesus. Nic. went away sorrowful into the darkness. Jesus had asked too much of him. He said, “No”, by his actions and closed the door on Jesus.

Nic. disappears from the Gospel narrative until after the crucifixion. Then, out of nowhere he becomes very public about his faith and is one of two Pharisees who take Jesus’ body from the cross. He bought 75 lbs. Of embalming spices in the public market and lugged it to a garden tomb where he hastily assisted in the burial of Jesus. He stepped out for Jesus and went public about his faith.

Meet Joseph from a town 20 miles north of Jerusalem:

This Joseph was also wealthy and held the same power, as did Nic. He was a colleague of Pilate and moved in powerful circles.

Mark tells us in his Gospel that Joseph did not agree with the rest of the Sanhedrin ruling council’s decision that Jesus was a phony. He didn’t agree with the Council, but he didn’t publicly agree with Jesus either. Mark tells us that Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God. His heart was open, but he was waiting.

Whatever he was waiting for must have happened, because he took courage and went to Pilate boldly. His action was bold because: (a) he was not related to Jesus; (b) his request was a favor that would likely be denied on principle since Jesus had been executed for treason; (c) he risked ceremonial defilement in handling a dead body; (d) his request amounted to an open confession of personal loyalty to the crucified Jesus which would doubtless incur his associates’ hostility.

In the process of spiritual growth both these men found it impossible to keep their secret and went public with their faith.

Burden:

My talk today will help you understand where you are on your faith journey. It may help you see that you are not a hopeless case. You may believe you have already decided not to be a Christ follower. You may think you have crossed some imaginary line and can’t go back. You are very wrong. There is still time for you to embrace Christ.

Basic Truth

Even if you have given up on Jesus He has never given up on you. You may not even know Him, but he knows you. You can still follow Jesus if you want.

Burning Question How do I come out for Jesus?

Get closer

Matthew 27:55 Many women were there, watching from a distance.

These women felt powerless and stood at a distance watching.

You may be standing at a distance watching.

You may be hoping for something to jump-start your faith.

I am preparing for a five-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail with my brother Lonnie and nephews. I took a shake down overnighter last week to see what I needed to fix before I step off into the wilderness. Charlie, my 90lb Lab went along. About 2:30 AM he got cold and laid down on top of the tent. I pushed him away, but it didn’t work. Moments later he put his nose in the tent looking for a little love. Later he had his front legs in and the next thing I knew he was all the way in. After circling three of four times he plopped down and in 30 seconds was snoring like a chain saw.

Move in closer. Stick your nose in the tent. The closer you come to Jesus the more you will like it. Check him out. Read the Bible. Try praying. Ask Him to help you.

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