“Then the chief priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You heard this blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death.” -Mark 14: 63-64
There is a time to speak and a time to listen. I think most of us struggle with distinguishing when to do which one, and at the appropriate time. In John 3 we see a man named Nicodemus come to Jesus at night. He was a member of the ‘ruling council’ and he had a very interesting conversation with Jesus. It is in this context where we are told about being ‘born again.’ It is from this text that we also draw probably the most familiar verse of Scripture in the world today – John 3:16. Do you remember Nicodemus? There was another member of such council that is described as being a secret follower of Jesus. His name was Joseph of Arimathea. He is most familiar to us as being the one who asked for the body of Jesus because he had a tomb in which Jesus could be buried in. What is interesting is that both of these men are thought of as being members of the same ruling council that condemned Jesus to death. Where were they this particular evening? Were they not present, or if they were, did they remain silent?
When were we ever silent in defending Christ?
I do not want to leave us with a simple question as if the answer to such a question is in simply yelling or speaking out. The biggest challenge to us will be whether or not our lives echo our hearts’ intentions of loving Christ. Do we love God in our heart, yet live in such a way that we ultimately condemn him? The answer might not just be telling someone about Jesus, or getting into a debate about the proof of the Gospel. This is the easy answer that we learn in Sunday School. This requires little sacrifice other than opening our mouths and being another bullhorn for the Gospel. The answer might require our lives becoming invested in the cause of justice. The answer might be giving a voice to those who do not have one. The answer may not come after one service project. The answer to our question might only come after a life of sacrifice. This will be our voice. This will be our message. This just might be our legacy. Were we the ones who remained silent when it was most needed? Let me close with a poem from Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.