Easter Call to Courage
Let's review how those who were near the cross showed cowardice or courage.
1. Jesus Dropped His guard against self-preservation or a pain-free salvation work. Thus, He became our perfect example of courage. He sweat in agony and fear in the Garden, praying "let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I want, Father, but as You want." On the cross He showed obedience "unto death," and committed Himself into the Father's hands.
2. Peter dropped his guard, denying Jesus during His trial. He professed courage during his last Passover with Jesus, saying he would die with Christ before he would deny Him. He showed the wrong courage by cutting off the ear of Malchus in the Garden. As you read Mark 14:27-32, 66-72, consider how quickly that confident believers close to Jesus can give in to the traps set by God's enemies. We are still in a world that puts God on trial, and that would crucify Jesus again if they could. Let us not warm our hands with the wrong crowd until we are there for the soul purpose of professing our faith in that amazing Savior. The rooster of time continues to crow out alarms that the dark night of this age is coming to an end. A new eternal dawn is closer than it has even been. Let us not deny Jesus before the crowing of "the last trumpet." Take time to read of the courage Peter was restored to after the resurrection of Christ. He was called to service again on the beach (John 21), and we see the evidence in Acts 2. I Corinthians 10:12 says "to him who thinks he stands (in his own strength), take heed lest you fall."
3. The secular centurion soldier dropped his tough-guy guard when he declared his faith in Jesus Christ. Having watch Jesus' passion, forgiveness, compassion, relationship with His Father, and releasing His spirit, that rugged Roman soldier proclaimed, "Surely this was a righteous man; the Son of God." Notice his courage he found at the cross as you read Mark 15:39 & Luke 23:47.
4. The secretive believer, Joseph of Arimathea, dropped his cowardice guard at the cross. He received authority to take care of the body of Jesus. He and Nicodemus honored, anointed, and gave a proper burial to Jesus.
Mark 15:42-47 and John 19:38-41 make it clear that the cross experience gave courage to Joseph to no longer be a coward. Notice also, that the devoted followers of Christ near the cross would not have known him to that point as a believer. They may have known that he was on the powerful Jewish council. They likely would not have known that he voted against the plan to kill Jesus. In like manner, let us drop our guard against God using someone new in our midst. Let us have courage to expect the unexpected when God sends to us people and provisions to carry out His plan. He loves His church so much, He will keep on adding what and who we need.
As we walk close to the Christ of the cross, we will regain our courage as His witnesses because of His resurrection. Joshua 1:6-19.