06/11/17 A Secret Disciple?

READING: Ezra 1-2, John 19:23-42

“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus—but secretly because of his fear of the Jews—asked Pilate that he might remove Jesus’ body.”

John 19:38

He appears in all the gospels, always related to the death of Jesus. He was Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea whose heart was seeking the kingdom of God (Matt. 27:57, Luke 23:51). He was a “respected member of the [Sanhedrin] council” who had not approved of the plan to arrest Jesus (Mark 15:43, Luke 23:51). John affirms that he was a follower of Jesus, but he further adds that he followed Him “secretly because of his fear of the Jews” (John 19:38).  Joseph was, though, also one who publicly sought to take care of the crucified body of Jesus.

Thus, we have a picture of a man who was a “good and righteous man” (Luke 23:50), who disapproved of the plan to remove Jesus, who sought God’s kingdom, and who took care of Jesus’ burial – but who also was a “secret” disciple of Jesus because of fear. The combination seems strange, almost contradictory . . . until, that is, we take a hard, honest look at our own lives. It seems that many of us follow a similar pattern. We strive to follow Jesus, and we’ll do whatever we can to serve Him and others; but, we too often allow fear to keep us from actually telling others about Him. In fact, studies have shown that fear is one of the primary reasons believers don’t do evangelism.

Maybe we’re afraid of not having answers to the questions of critics. Or of losing a relationship if we push too hard. Or of others starting to watch our lives more closely when we stand up for Jesus. Or of not knowing how to share the gospel. Or, in some situations around the world, of suffering actual persecution. Or of paying any other perceived cost that might develop if we truly catch fire for Jesus. Whatever the fear is that keeps us from talking about Jesus, our fright too often forces us into becoming “secret” disciples of Jesus.

It’s in those times that we must remember that the Spirit of God lives in us. Indwelt by God Himself, we have no reason to fear. 


  • Determine your greatest fears that keep you from evangelizing.
  • Push beyond your fears to tell somebody about Jesus today.

PRAYER: “Lord, help me to be a wide open disciple of You today.” 

TOMORROW’S READING:  Ezra 3-5, John 20