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Courageous Faith and Practical Love Action

Apr 01, 2009 04:59 AM EDT

Author: Paul Nagano, Dr., Council For Pacific Asian Theology, Alhambra

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.(Mark 15:42-45, NIV)

Most Asian Americans are either shy or find it difficult to question authority. But two behavior patterns are revelations of genuine faith: courage and love-action. In our scripture text, Joseph of Arimathea evidenced his genuine faith by his courage and action: he courageously had an encounter with the highest local authority, Pilate representing the Roman Empire, and asked a very courageous question-he asked for the body of Jesus, who was crucified as a criminal. In such a situation, it would be very difficult for any person to ask for the body of a humble and insignificant criminal, but this indicates the courageous faith of Joseph. From a practical point of view, such a request would be foolish and unpopular, but Joseph had faith that this man, “despised and rejected” Jesus, had something to do with the kingdom of God (v.43). Not only did this express Joseph’s courageous faith, it witnessed to his genuine faith as he expressed his love with courageous action. What would he do with a dead body? We would think it would be a very strange and unpopular thing to ask for a dead body. Joseph has no knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus. In practical love together with his discernment that Jesus was an innocent and good man, he wanted to express his honest intuitive faith and expressed his love by this unusual request and loving action. We often overlook some of the characters mentioned in the Bible, but here we see what courageous faith and love-in-action is all about. Hardly mentioned in the Bible and known in history, but this Joseph is a great witness of what genuine faith is all about.

You may be thought “crazy” or out of line, but we live in a day when it takes courage to be a follower of Jesus with actions of genuine love to authenticate what we believe.

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The ISAAC 2009 Lenten Devotional, edited by Rev. Dr. Johnson Chiu. This devotional was written by Asian American English ministry leaders and pastors in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. To purchase, click here: Road of Suffering, Road to Glory: A Lenten Adventure with the Savior