By Opeyemi Ojekunle
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
The Sanhedrin were the leaders the passage was referring to and according to John 19:38-39 only two of them were mentioned; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. These leaders did not have a true belief in Jesus. As Romans 10:9-13 says:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The leaders were only convinced in their understanding that Jesus was the messiah because of the miracles they have seen, they did not believe in their heart and did not make an open confession of their faith in Jesus. The fear of the shame or disgrace that follows being ostracized from the synagogue restrained the leaders from openly declaring their faith in Jesus as the Messiah. They valued honor and praise from those around them, more than seeking honor and approval from God.
Today, lack of courage, integrity, peer pressure and not wanting to be the “odd one out” in our community are enough reasons to restrain us from acting in harmony with our faith in Christ. What would make you afraid to confess your faith?
To lose one’s place in the synagogue was a huge loss for someone in Jesus’ day. We need to ask ourselves how often have we failed to stand up for Jesus when the stakes were even lower. If we truly believe in Jesus, how could we give him up? If we truly want to honor God, then how could the approval of mere mortal people become more important? God calls us to love Him without a rival. Anything that would interfere with our honoring God becomes our idol, even if it is the fear of rejection or the desire for praise from others.
Father God, give me the courage to graciously stand up and confess my faith in Jesus. I truly believe that you sent Jesus to die for my sins and give me power over sin and death. Please help me live that faith before the people with whom I interact, regardless of their acceptance or rejection of me because of this faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.