Are you courageous? Would you like to be? Is there someone you admire for his or her courage? I pick Joseph.
COURAGE IS DOING WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.
That is what my youngest daughter said when I asked my family at dinner for a definition: “Doing what you have to do.” Firemen commended for their bravery often say, “I did what I had to do.”
When Joseph of Arimathea somehow discovered that there were no plans for the burial of Jesus, he went into action. In doing so, this prominent leader on the Sanhedrin decided that he must go public with his following of Christ. He risked his life in caring for the body of Jesus, but he did what he had to do. His commitment drove his courage. So will yours.
COURAGE DOES NOT MEAN THE ABSENCE OF FEAR.
Was Joseph afraid? I suspect so. He had five pints of fear but eight pints of courage, so courage won. Was David afraid when he confronted Goliath? Probably. But Goliath had defied the God of Israel, and that could not go unchallenged. If you have more than your share of fear, that does not mean that you are not courageous. Just don’t let fear lead the parade.
COURAGE OFTEN MEANS STANDING ALONE.
Joseph stood alone against the entire Sanhedrin. He “had not consented to their decision and action” (Luke 23:51). That meant he just became the enemy in caring for Jesus. Three things about his death: 1) Jesus died on a public street just outside the city walls. That’s the way the Romans discouraged traitors. 2) Jesus always drew a crowd. 3) It was rush hour, just before the biggest sabbath of the year, an impossible time to remove the body without attention.
Esther stood alone: “If I perish, I perish.” Smells like courage. Daniel prayed after hearing about the king’s edict knowing that it might be his last. Didn’t matter. Rahab hid spies at great personal risk. It saved her family, and she came into the line of Christ.
COURAGE HAS A RELATIONAL COMPONENT.
We thought Nicodemus was timid because he came to Jesus by night. Maybe not. Joseph brought out the courage in his partner. They were two leaders in Israel, now going public in their dual commitment to Jesus. Courageous people en-courage others. Cowardly people dis-courage the ranks. Ten spies took courage out of a whole country. What a gift Joseph and Nicodemus were to each other. One can take on 1000. Two can go after 10,000. Do the math!
COURAGE IS RELATED TO OBEDIENCE.
No one else was thinking about the burial, because they were not thinking about the death. We don’t know when Joseph started thinking about it. Maybe he asked John at the cross what the plans were. When he found out there were none, he offered his tomb and went to Pilate. The boldness was related to new commitment. Obedience informs courage. The risk is secondary. To obey or not obey is the issue of a disciple.
COURAGE COMES WITH A COST.
Joseph may not have lived past the weekend. The reward makes the price worth it. John the Baptist spoke out against Herod, and that was the last time he saw daylight. Ask him in heaven if he had any regrets.
A friend of mine said, “I’ve come to the place where if I know the will of God, I will do it regardless.” That is a good place to be–and a courageous one!