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Disciple in Disguise

Through the Resurrection  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:12
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“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
EST - Joseph of Arimathea is a disciple in secret.
ESS - We will observe three things about being a disciple in secret.
OST - In what ways will speak out in faith?
TRANS - Let’s pray, read, and get into our message.

What does it say?

John 19:38 ESV
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.
INTRO - Who wants a stigma?
In Greek and Latin, a stigma was a mark or brand, especially one that marked a slave, that marked someone inferior.
When the plural form stigmata is used, it usually refers to the nail wounds on Christ's hands and feet.
When stigma began to be used in English, it usually meant the kind of mark or stain you can't actually see.
So today we hear about the stigma of homelessness, the stigma of overweight, the stigma of mental illness, and the stigma of addiction.
So, who wants a stigma?
It’s something that most people don’t want.
Fortunately, it’s not a hopeless situation.
Joseph of Arimathea has a stigma; maybe two?
One is that he offered up a grave for Jesus, but that is more of a good report.
The other, well, that is the subject of today’s message.
Joseph of Arimathea will always have the stigma of “secret disciple.”
“Secret disciple” is a shameful stigma.
But, before we get too quick to label, let’s remember that many Christians are just as guilty.
Many don’t let others know where they stand in regard to Jesus.
ILL - Cowardice is nothing new.
Genesis 3:12 ESV
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Adam, in attempting to shift responsibility for his sin upon Eve.
Genesis 31:31 ESV
Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force.
Jacob, in flying from Laban.
1 Samuel 16:2 ESV
And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’
Samuel, fearing to obey God’s command to anoint a king in Saul’s stead, 1 Sam. 16:2.
John 9:22 ESV
(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)
Parents of the blind man, who was restored to sight.
Matthew 28:4 ESV
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
Guards of the sepulcher of Jesus, Matt. 28:4.
TRANS - But, what can be done?
What can God’s Word do to help?
Is there hope for us when we fear so much to share about Jesus publically?
Let’s see what God’s Word does teach.

What does it mean?

Let’s look at the first of our three points this morning.

The Everyday Mask “was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly”

Masks help us hide.
ILL - Our cats Samara and Sapphire like to hide. When I approach the little window cut into the side of one of their cat condos, they hide their heads. I can still see them, but they think they are hiding.
Joseph of Arimathea is often credited for his action, even when is really to late to make much difference.
Truth is, if he stood for Jesus when Christ was alive, he might had used that platform to do much more than just carrying off Jesus’ dead body.
A disciple in secret fails to confess Christ publically.
People don’t know a masked Christian follows Jesus.
The mask covers their faith, if it can really be counted as faith?
A disguised person may claim to know Jesus, but their claim is not what is important.
What is important to God is obedience.
What did Jesus say:
Matthew 10:32–33 ESV
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Who doesn’t want Jesus to speak their name before God?
According to Jesus, if people with whom you speak can’t recall you telling them about Jesus, you are a failure not a follower.
TRANS - Okay, so God wants us to acknowledge Jesus in front of people. That is, if someone does not believe, we challenge them.
Our choices are fear people or fear God.
That is, well, let’s let God’s Word say this:
Matthew 10:28 ESV
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
We might say, I’m taking off this mask!

The Everted Milksop “for fear of the Jews,”

Disguised people, like my cats, like to hide behind something.
That’s the reason for the mask.
Often disguised people pretend, act, or take on the character of someone else; real or fictional.
Their is no mistake Joseph of Arimathea’s mask wearing is due to cowardice.
He is coward, afraid, spineless, milksop.
But, is that what the Bible teaches?
The person who backs down from obedience, who fails to speak up for righteousness, who makes no attempt to share Christ is a milksop.
Joseph of Arimathea was afraid of the Jews.
He had a high position that he didn’t want to chance.
He was a rich man and didn’t want to loose his wealth:
Matthew 27:57 ESV
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.
Respected yes, a coward, yes, but change:
Mark 15:43 ESV
Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
The Jews could hurt Joseph of Arimathea.
He feared them, yet he “took courage” at the last minute.
Let’s touch on what we’ve noted so far:
people were masks because they are afraid
God says, fear me more than people
Joseph of Arimathea cared more about his own skin than what God says
In the end, he ended up doing what God wanted anyway and then everyone knew how much of a coward he was.
It would had been much easier for Joseph of Arimathea to do what God said in the beginning.
Instead, everything he tried to conceal came out and it was worse than if he’d just obeyed God from the start.
TRANS- So, take of the mask, stop being a milksop (coward) or be like Joseph of Arimathea.
Are we in agreement so far?
What else does this text tell us?

The Entrenchment in Marble Town “asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus,”

Joseph of Arimathea came too late to support Jesus when he was suffering.
Like so many, he is closer to Jesus at the cemetery than he was when things were moving and shaking.
Sadly, too many Jesus followers are like this.
ILL - Tuesday morning, it occured to me that I might one day write a sermon called “Dead People are Better Christians.” I thought, at least they stopped being disobedient to God. Living people disobey God by not doing what He says:
John 13:15 ESV
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
Jesus says “do” and often his followers say, “do what?” Talk to that sinner, that mean person, that know it all, that man that always makes me so angry, that hate-filled person, do what?
Jesus says “teach them, be my witnesses, go and make disciples.”
I can see how Billy Graham thought there were so many lost people going to church; our record of silence speaks loudly.
Churches are full with people who say nothing until something is done, a matter is struck down, or pastor is run off.
Too many churches are full with people feel sympathetic for the backslider and the one put out of the church for their persistent sin.
To many show up late rather than standing up when it counted most.
A disguised disciple is a marble town man or woman; they are only seen when it’s too late to make bigger difference.
They bury the cause, the person, the ideas for whom they failed to take a stand.
That kind, we don’t need in a church.
TRANS - Summing up is easy:
take off the mask and let your light shine
don’t be a milksop because greater his He than he who is in the world
don’t hang out at marble-town; ask me to hold you accountable, I’m happy to help

What application can I make of this?

Who do people see, you or the you that you want them to see?
If I were to ask the people you spoke with last week to share your testimony about Jesus, would they have enough information to tell me how you love Jesus?
If asked, “Are you willing to die for Jesus?” can you say for certain you would say yes?
What do you fear more, dying for Jesus or living for Him and letting every living soul you know hear, from your lips, that you love them and so does Jesus?
Joseph of Arimathea had much opportunity to make a much bigger difference, but waited until the end.
God has already provided everything this church needs to do His will except forcing your obedience.
Will you join your pastor as a minister to this community?
Will you chance your position, your power, your possessions, or your popularity by putting your faith into action before its too late to make a bigger difference?
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