John 12:42-43 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Human nature hasn’t changed, certainly in 2000 years and probably from creation. The first part of John’s statement here shows that at least some of the leaders weren’t deaf and blind, unable to recognize the many signs that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, but the second part of the statement is actually very sad. We know the names of two of the men here described: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. They found their courage, finally, after Jesus was crucified, and saw to Jesus’ burial. God actually used their cowardice to keep them in a position where they could go to Pilate and request Jesus’ body, but at the same time, that doesn’t excuse their failing to confess their faith openly earlier. John wasn’t picking on them, but he was being bluntly honest. I feel sure that many of the men here mentioned were later active members of the Church, but their earlier behavior removed all room for pride. The thing is, we all do this at times. We fear the reaction of people and so fail to stand up for, or even state, the truth. Today’s “cancel culture” makes that all the more acute. In America today, it’s all too easy to lose your job over simply stating, in a social media forum, that the Black Lives Matter organization is a Marxist fraud. The devil tells us that failing to speak the truth is not the same as denying Christ, but it is certainly at least closely related. The devil knows that when truth penetrates, it sets people free from his lies. (John 8:32) In that sense, it comes back to what Jesus said was the 2nd greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39) If we love our neighbor, we want them to be free from the lying traps of the devil, so we will speak the truth to them in love, even if they don’t seem to receive it. It’s all part of living with Jesus as Lord. Our lifestyles are an inseparable part of our confession of faith.
I too have to be careful of this, because I want people to like and accept me as much as anyone does. However, I have learned the hard way that not everyone is going to like me regardless of what I do. That leaves the only logical course as seeking to please God, because those who are in tune with Him will certainly like me for that. I have never been a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher, but this past Sunday I stated clearly that ignoring God, not to mention rebelling against Him, destines you for hell. There were two non-Christian ladies here, and rather than taking offense, they seemed hungry for more. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I’ve failed to express the Gospel in such clear terms out of a fear of people’s reactions. Genuine repentance of that sin means that I must be bold from here on out, so that as many as will may repent, believe, and be saved.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. It’s not that I haven’t known this, but I still need to work at practicing it! Thank You that I enter the hospital this morning for surgery. I pray that in all my interactions, with my roommates, the medical staff, and whoever, I may be Your agent indeed, speaking Your truth in love and not letting myself get in the way, so that they may be drawn to You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!