Desmond Doss enlisted to serve in World War II as a non-combatant. Though his religious beliefs prevented him from carrying a gun, Doss ably served as a combat medic. In one battle, he withstood intense and repeated enemy fire to pull seventy-five soldiers in his unit to safety after they had been injured. His story is told in the documentary The Conscientious Objector and dramatized in the film Hacksaw Ridge.
A roll call of the heroes of Christian faith includes such courageous characters as Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, and Paul. Yet there are some unsung heroes like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who risked their standing with the Jewish leaders to take Christ’s crucified body and give Him a decent burial (John 19:40–42). This was a bold move from a fearful, secret disciple of Jesus and another, Nicodemus, who had previously dared to visit Him only at night (vv. 38–39). Even more impressive is that they took their faith-stand before Jesus rose victorious from the grave. Why?
Perhaps the manner of Jesus’s death and the events that immediately followed (Matthew 27:50–54) crystallized the fledgling faith of these fearful followers. Maybe they learned to focus on who God is rather than what man could do to them. Whatever the inspiration, may we follow their example and exhibit courage to take risks of faith in our God—for others today.
In what ways have you lived courageously for your faith in Jesus? What can you do differently that might show your faith to the world?
Jewish burial customs required that the dead be buried within twenty-four hours. Jewish law dictated that a crucified body must be taken down and not left exposed overnight (Deuteronomy 21:22–23; John 19:31). Jesus would have been buried with the other two convicted criminals in a common grave if Joseph hadn’t asked Pilate for His body (John 19:38). Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy and influential leader of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish judicial body. He was a good and upright man who was waiting for the kingdom of God. Though he was a secret disciple of Jesus, he wasn’t afraid to disagree with the Sanhedrin’s decision to put the Savior to death (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50–52). Joseph places Christ’s body “in his own new tomb” (Matthew 27:60). That Jesus was buried in a rich man’s tomb was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9.