Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus down from the cross and, after wrapping it for burial, placed it into Joseph’s own new tomb, rolling a stone in front of it.
Thank God for quiet disciples! Joseph hasn’t been named in the Gospels until after Jesus has died, but he’s been there for some time. A strong leader in some contexts, he’s just been too afraid to admit publicly his affinity for the Gospel and Jesus until now. Perhaps he’s been at several of Jesus’ miracles and sermons, but always in the background, always at the edge of the crowd, never pushing forward. He’s been a quiet disciple until now – but now he steps up and in this singular act of devotion he and Nicodemus boldly go to Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body so they can bury it. Who would have thought?
There are such quiet disciples in your congregation and in mine, too. I’m sure of it. These are the folks that aren’t that vocal, they aren’t arguing with you or others or causing you to have ulcers and headaches. They aren’t in leadership positions and maybe don’t even come to Bible Class all the time. Sometimes you wonder about them – are they truly “committed” to Jesus and His Gospel, much less to your ministry with them.
And then they surprise you. When you least expect it, they step up like Joseph and do something extraordinary, and you realize they’ve been there all along. When my mother died in 2001, we were touched by the love that was shown us by many of the folks in our congregation, but in particular by one of the older fellows who stopped by our house one day with some vegetables from his garden and just chatted with us for a while. After he left we realized that this had been his way of making a condolence visit, and we still cherish that memory.
You probably can’t tease these things out of these quiet disciples; they may keep quiet when you wish they’d shout out their support (Joseph and Nicodemus kept quiet when the council was condemning Jesus); but if you keep your eyes and ears and heart open their love for Jesus and for you will blossom and surprise you when you least expect it – and that’s worth cherishing.
In the meantime, on this Holy Saturday – God bless us everyone!