The politics of Easter and two people
Let the culture debate the political correctness of Easter. As Christians, we will faithfully rejoice in the miracle of Christ’s resurrection. Politics have always surrounded the events of Easter, especially the first one. 

The religious leaders of the day held an illegal trial, demanding they be considered right instead of doing what they knew was right. Pontius Pilate, the Roman official, made unjust decisions in order to appease and please people he was tired of listening to. And the confused crowds followed the rhetoric instead of the evidence. 

It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? 

There were some that first Easter, although few in number, who stood and fought for what was right. There are two names in the Easter story that deserve some recognition: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. 

What happened to Nicodemus after his conversation with Jesus?

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to see Jesus at night and, while some debate his motives, most believe that he was honestly trying to know if Jesus was the Messiah. 

John 3:1–21 is the record of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus and contains some of the most memorized words in Scripture. If you have time, you should read the whole passage. It is one of the best examples in Scripture about how to speak to an intellectual about Christianity. 

But, every debate about Easter must end with the knowledge that we are saved through faith, not facts. There is a lot of proof about the life and death of Jesus, but people are “born again” because they believe the gospel message of love, forgiveness, and miracles. 

What happened to Nicodemus after his conversation with Jesus? 

The passage doesn’t record his acceptance of Christ as his Messiah. We don’t have a specific testimony about Nicodemus, but there is strong evidence that he understood Jesus to be his Messiah. 

John 7:50–52 says that Nicodemus spoke to a group of unbelieving Pharisees about the unlawful seizure of Jesus. Later, in John 19, after Jesus had died on the cross, Nicodemus joined Joseph of Arimathea and helped give Jesus a traditional Jewish burial. John 19:39 says, “Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.” 

Scripture doesn’t record a profession of faith from Nicodemus, but it records his act of faith. His actions would have publicly separated him from the other Pharisees and revealed his belief about the divinity and value of Jesus. A mixture of myrrh and aloes, seventy-five pounds in weight, is recorded for a reason. The estimated value of those spices today would be around $200,000. 

Jesus was given a costly burial after his costly death. 

Nicodemus apparently understood the value of Jesus’ sacrifice. 

Joseph of Arimathea understood too

Luke describes Joseph of Arimathea as a “good and righteous man” who didn’t agree with the Sanhedrin’s decision to crucify Jesus (Luke 23:50–51). He was a prominent member of the Jewish council who we know was “looking for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23:51). It seems he was a secret follower of Jesus. I’ve sometimes wondered if he and Nicodemus had met together before in order to discuss Jesus. We don’t have the whole story in Scripture, just what we need to know. 

We do know that “Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mark 15:43). 

It is commonly believed that the tomb, described as “newly hewn,” was the property of Joseph, given freely for the honored burial of Jesus. It was likely his family tomb, the place where he planned to be buried with his loved ones. 

Both men sacrificed for Jesus financially, but they also sacrificed personally. Both risked their positions in the community in order to make a public display of faith and honor the crucified body of Christ. 

Our public display of faith

There are intellectual facts, biblical and historical, to support the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is important to know how to defend your faith with knowledge. But, truthfully, most of us will prove our faith the way Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea proved theirs. 

What will be the public display of our faith in Jesus this Easter? 

How will your friends, family, co-workers, and others be convinced of what you believe? 

Sometimes our words are debated, but it is difficult to debate our public acts of faith. People typically “observe” those moments. And sometimes people like Nicodemus come to us privately so they can try to understand what we believe. 

How will you make your faith public, like those two Jewish leaders did on the first Easter? 

If you pray for the opportunity, it will likely happen. You might not even realize the opportunity occurred.  

Politically correct, or right with God?

It is impossible to know how many Easter seasons the world will celebrate in the years to come. Jesus could return before next spring occurs. For now, it is looking like the Christian message of Easter is becoming a little more “politically incorrect” with each year that passes. But remember, John was the only disciple at the foot of the cross. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are the only Pharisees named on Jesus’ side in the Easter story.  

These men didn’t stand with the crowd; they stood with Jesus. I hope that will be said of you and me as well. It is best to make that decision before it becomes a choice. 

Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). If Nicodemus and Joseph truly understood and believed in Jesus’ words, we will see them in heaven. Imagine the joy of “fitting in” with that crowd! 

We gladly praise the two people in our Easter story who set our example. 

I’d rather be correct about Jesus than politically correct. 

I’d rather be the Pharisee who recognizes and honors the Messiah.  

I wish you a blessed and holy Easter celebration! 

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