At first Nicodemus visited Jesus at night. Then he tried to stand up for Him in the Sanhedrin. In the end, he joined Joseph of Arimathea and went to see Pilate in order to recover the body of Jesus so it could be given a respectable burial. Yes, the Cross made both these secret disciples nail their colours to the mast.
Joseph asked for the body so he could bury it in a new tomb. Yes, he might have cowered in the back when Jesus was alive but in death he would speak up and make sure Christ’s body was buried with respect.
As most of Jesus’ followers were poor; had not Joseph and Nicodemus come forward, His body may well have been left to rot on the ground. But no, from among the secret disciples emerged a rich landowner who would provide the holy resting place.
And what of Nicodemus? We can read the script so quickly and pass over it but what it says is – Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 75 pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. There were enough spices for the burial of a king! Yes, Joseph provided the tomb and Nicodemus the clothes to wear within it.
Do you remember the gifts the young Jesus was given by the Magi? One was myrrh – declaring how He would save the world and restore our relationship with God as Father – by dying in our place. He was given myrrh – the burial ointment. Nicodemus provided it yet again at the very burial of the Son of God.
Why did he do that? Yes, to provide a decent burial. Yes, to bring closure to an ugly scene. But more than that - it was the very least he could do for someone who had come to mean so much to him. Yes, he would now stand up and be counted. Yes, he would provide what was needed in the hour of Jesus’ greatest shame.
Even more than that – at last from out of his heart would flow that worship he had so desperately longed to give and yet held back. The Cross had challenged him; the Cross had spoken so eloquently to him; the Cross had released him from the fear of man - and as Jesus was lifted up, He drew Nicodemus to Himself – just as He promised.
Now as Jesus’ body lay motionless and dead, Nicodemus could at last express his devotion to Jesus the way he knew best. Not in words alone but through his actions. No longer in fear and in secret – but now with an overflowing and generous heart. Only the best was good enough for his King. He may have failed Jesus during his life but he would surely do all he could to make amends at His death.
Lord Jesus, thank You that I can become a worshipper. I thank You from the bottom of my heart for all You have done for me – redeeming me and saving me – and I thank You for all You continue to do for me every day. However, I want to learn to worship You more for who You are – The Eternal Word of God, The Way, the Truth and The Life, the Ultimate Authority, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, the Altogether Lovely One, the One before whom every knee shall bow and to whom every tongue in Heaven and on earth shall proclaim – Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.