Summary: Nicodemus


Fourth century church theologian Augustine told of a Victorinus (a renowned philosopher and teacher in Rome; who had even been honored with a statue in the Roman forum) who was converted to Christianity in his old age. He came to Simplicius, one eminent at the time for his piety), whispering in his ear softly, these words: “I am a Christian.” The godly man answered, “I will not believe it, nor count thee so, till I see you among the Christians in the church.”

Victorinus laughed and said, “Cannot I be such, unless I openly proclaim it, and let the world know the same?” On another occasion, he says, “Is it the walls of a church, then, that make people Christians?” This he said for fear, being yet a young convert, though an old man.

A while after, when he was confirmed in the faith, he changed his note, and came to Simplicius saying, “Let us go to the church, I will in no wise earnest be a Christian.” When Victorinus was baptized, the presbyters of the church told him that he could make the profession privately, because of his age and dignity but he chose to do it openly, saying, “I had openly professed rhetoric, which was not a matter of salvation, and should I be afraid to own the word of God in the congregation of the faithful?” (The Book of Illustrations, Henry George Slater, page 98).

When Jesus was crucified, all the disciples forsook him, and fled (Matt 26:56,

Mark 14:50). In Luke’s version the women stood helplessly from a distance watching the events unfolding (Luke 23:49, Mark 15:40, Matt 27:55). Everyone feared for the worst for Jesus’ body.

But a surprising and spectacular thing happened. Two unlikely men the disciples hardly knew obtained the body of Jesus and buried Jesus in the garden. The ladies followed the men, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. They then returned and prepared spices and perfumes. (Luke 23:55-56)

What kind of person are you when faced with adversity or adversaries? How have you demonstrated your faithfulness to God and others? Why is it important for us to be unashamed of the Lord and the gospel?

Conjure the Courage (The Person, with your mouth)

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.

Two young men came to New York City from the country on a visit. They went to the same boarding-house to stay and took a room together. Well, when they came to go to bed each felt ashamed to go down on his knees before his companion first. So they sat watching each other. In fact, to express the situation in one word, they were both cowards—yes, cowards! But at last one of them mustered up a little courage, and with burning blushes, as if he was about to do something wrong and wicked, he sunk down on his knees to say his prayers. As soon as the second saw that, he also knelt. And then, after they had said their prayers, each waited for the other to get up. When they did manage to get up one said to the other: “I really am glad to see that you knelt; I was afraid of you.” “Well,” said the other, “and I was afraid of you.”

The Church of Jerusalem and the Christians of the Holy Land commemorate Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus each year on 31 August. The Romans could deny the families of criminals the right to bury their dead, allowing them to decompose for several days on the cross as an example to other “law breakers”.

Also, the bodies of those who are punished for high treason are singled out for the worst treatment. Avaricious governors sometimes sold this privilege …For the bodies of the beheaded shall be thrown to the beasts. If this is grievous to parents, they may buy the liberty of burial” (Vincent, Marvin R. DD. “Commentary on John 19:38”. “Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament”).

Joseph had everything in life going for him. He was rich (Matt 27:57), honorable (Mark 15:43), a good and just man (Luke 23:50), who waited for the kingdom of God. (Mark 15:43, Luke 23:51), and most of all, a disciple (Matt 27:57, v 38). He was also a counselor, or a member of the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43).

Joseph was a cryptic (krupto), closeted and cowardly disciple. That was the past. In the death of Jesus something stirred in him, which was courage, conviction and commitment. Mark 15:43 used the word “boldly” to describe his actions. This verb occurs five times in the gospels, three times with the negation “none” (oudeis) and once with “not ever after” (ouketi) and once only in the positive (“boldly”) as in Joseph’s case:

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