Scripture Text: John 12:42-43 Title: Synagogue Fear
Question of the Day: What is it that keeps many Christians from standing up for the Lord?
The life and ministry of Jesus is a textbook on so many issues, and this is one of them. Jesus gave His life for man’s sin—and He did it all alone—and yet many Christians don’t feel compelled to speak up for Him or to take a stand with Him on many current issues of the day. We feel fear and we feel intimidated when we face the pressures of this world to conform to their system and their demonic control over everything. Why do we lack boldness? Is this a problem new to our day? What was it like in the days of Christ?
Here is today’s text: “At the same time, many among the leading religious leaders of that day came to believe in Jesus, but because of the pressure of the Pharisees they didn’t openly confess their faith in Him because they would have been excommunicated from the synagogue. The problem: they loved the praise and approval of men more than the praise of God.”
John had an inside track to know and smooshed with the leaders among the Jews. He knew a number of them who believed (for sure Nicodemus, and possibly Joseph of Arimathea, for example). John indicated that he knew a number of them, and that a number of them believed on Jesus. So, why then did they not join Jesus publicly and stick up for Him and stand with Him against the pressures of the Pharisees? The text says that they didn’t confess openly their faith in Jesus because of the Pharisees. Evidentially the power and pressure from the Pharisees was so intense that no one dared cross them.
The blind man’s parents in chapter 9 were afraid to cross the Pharisees. Why? They were afraid that if they crossed the Pharisees, they would have then been put out of the synagogue. But wasn’t the temple the place of temple worship? It must have been that the most prestigious place to be in those days was in the synagogue—where Jesus often went on the Sabbath, and where many first came to know the Lord when Paul went out to preach. But John went on to give the underlying reason: actually, they loved the praise of men more than the praise from God. When do we get praise and affirmation from God the Father? Is it not when we believe and worship the Son? The Pharisees rejected the Son, and those who sided with them never got praise from God—even though it says that they believed in Jesus.
Is that why so many today profess to be a Christian and a member of a certain church, and yet they are afraid to stand up for and with the Lord Jesus Christ and be counted as one of His followers? Are we afraid of the opinion and pressure from the world system that controls the whole world—including many religious leaders? Jesus was so richly blessed by God because He stood and stood many times alone when everyone else denied Him or forsook Him and fled or just refused to buck the system. How many changes would come in our lives if we sought the praise of God instead the praise and acceptance from man. Standing against the system cost Jesus His life! What will it cost me?
Prayer: Lord, I know that from the time that the prophets came in the Old Testament, many have died just for taking a stand with and for You. Give me the courage to stand—even if it means death. Teach me to be totally focused on the praise that comes from You. Amen!