A Silent Killer
When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.
Fear is a silent killer. It hides in the back alleys of our mind shaded by darkness as it takes on many forms. Without knowing it we carry its debilitating clutches everywhere we go. The fear of losing a friendship keeps us from speaking a hard truth. The dread of public opinion, even the judgement of a total stranger, ties our hands and slows our feet. The possibility of losing a position in an organization causes us to shrink back into the shadows. A muzzle settles over our mouths when wrong is ruling the day in a workplace. The writer of Proverbs tells us that, “the fear of man brings a snare.”
If a preacher allows the deadly poison of fear to seep into his pulpit, he becomes cautious, hesitant to preach the truth. He eyes the congregation to see if what he is saying is pleasing to their itching ears. The believer who calculates the stranger before him rarely shares the gospel. He wavers to share the message of hope for fear of losing a friend. Fear is a silent killer that can only be exposed when we begin to ask ourselves some pointed questions. What is the worst that can be done to us? Is the big, bad, boogie man in the dark, really that scary? And the most pointed question of all, what is the source of our fear? That last question is the key to it all.
Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was wealthy, powerful and a secret disciple of Jesus. We are not left to our imagination regarding his secrecy. He hid his faith in Christ because he was afraid of the Jews. He allowed men to silence him. But something changed after the crucifixion that redefined him for proceeding generations. There was something in the death of Jesus that caused Joseph to abandon his fear and boldly asked for the body of Jesus from the most powerful political figure in the land.
As he stood watching the cross from a distance, he no doubt heard the cry of Jesus, “It is finished.” Joseph witnessed the worst that man can do, and yet, in Jesus he saw the shout of victory. He understood, in that life-changing moment, that there was something greater than his own life. Joseph embraced the One who conquered death, and in so doing, lost any grip on his own life. He went with Nicodemus, and together, they took down the body of Jesus from the cross. Covered with blood he had never been so free.
It is the preservation of our own lives that is the source of our fear. Once we embrace death as the doorway into life, fear flies away like a flock of frightened geese. It is written in the book of Revelation that the saints, “overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their own lives even onto death.” It is the dying leaf that displays the most beautiful color. Joseph of Arimathea finally understood that truth, and as a result, no longer feared what man could do to him.