Reading through this morning’s Gospel reading, John 19, 38-42, I was struck by a seemingly insignificant yet tender detail which, on closer reflection, provides a lovely description of how the Church might consider how it leads people into a life of ever deepening discipleship.
Let’s have a look at John 19, 38-39:
‘After these things, Joseph of Arimathea who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus by night also came, bringing with him a mixture of myrhh and aloes weighing about a hundred pounds…..’
I think we can learn (at least) three things from this short passage:
Some of our church members will, like Joseph, be reticent about their faith, because they are afraid or lack confidence. Indeed so might we have been at some stage in our journey. So let’s be humble and tender, perhaps (almost certainly) at first we too ‘didn’t quite get it.’
We should expect and welcome quietists within our gatherings and act with Nicdoemian tenderness. We are, after all, called onto to nourish others. Let’s never neglect the ministry of encouragement. Just consider how, with Nicodemus’ encouragement, Joseph steps up, perhaps unexpectedly, to the plate.
There is a cost to ministry, often a material cost, in the case of Nicodemus a cost weighing about a hundred pounds. Ministry is by definition sacrificial.
Yes, there are other lessons to be learnt – how to care for the dead, for instance, but these three struck me as relevant to how we ‘disciple others’ today.
Can we welcome and nurture the Joseph’s in our community; you never know what they might do.