"A Secret Disciple"
I have a confession to make. I am a follower of Jesus. You think that's an odd confession? It's dangerous to be a follower of Jesus. Not very many people know that I am. You see, I am a respectable person. I have my reputation to protect, my standing in the community. So I try to help, in small ways, and in secret ways. I try to live by the things that Jesus taught. "Love one another as I have loved you," he said. "Servants are not greater than their master," he said. "Go and bear fruit," he said. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
That last statement haunts me. I have tried to live by Jesus' teachings. I want to honor him. Not many disciples have the means to provide a tomb. So I did. I wanted to honor him and his life. It seemed like the least I could do. But as I thought about it, it seemed like the safe thing to do. I'm glad I gave him a place to be buried. He was too important, to... holy... to be buried in a pauper's grave, to be buried with all of the other criminals. But as I sealed the tomb, I thought, just for a moment -- we're save now. We're safe from those teachings of his -- so compelling, but so difficult. Can you imagine? Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life keep it? If I am honest with myself, that's me. I love my life. That's why I'm a secret disciple. And my my heart knows that what Jesus teaches is true, and life-giving. But I am afraid. I am afraid to lose my life, my reputation. I'm afraid of what will happen if I tell people that I believe in Jesus. Will they laugh at me? Will they stop inviting me to their banquets? Will I be an outcast?
When I sealed the tomb, for a moment I thought -- this is the end. And I grieved the thought of never hearing his voice again, of never seeing him again, of never being healed again. But then I thought, what did I think I was sealing up? Didn't he say, "If grain of wheat, it bears much fruit?" This is not the end. You can try to seal Jesus in the tomb, but he won't stay there. You can try to make his teachings respectable, but he'll keep meeting you, and telling you to come out of the darkness, and come into the light. You can try to be a secret disciple, but he'll keep messing you up.
That's how it was with me. I sealed up the tomb, to provide a respectable burial. And I vowed to honor his memory with my life. But as it turns out, Jesus doesn't want me to "honor his memory." He wants me to join him in a new life.