Although it sometimes it may seem like Jesus only had a few people who truly followed Him during His time on earth, that is not entirely accurate. Sure, there were the “crowds”, but they were a fickle bunch, seeking miracles and shouting “Hosanna!” one week and “Crucify Him” just a week later. Jesus had His disciples, who were truly committed, and some close friends who were willing to risk everything to follow Him, but there were others as well. Pharisees.
In John 3, Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, came to Jesus by night to discuss being born again. Much later, after Jesus had died, Nicodemus was there as well, helping prepare His body for burial. In fact, “many of the rulers” believed in Jesus, according to John 12:42. However, “They did not confess Him, lest they be put out of the synagogue for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” In Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus said, “Whoever will confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever will deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
Maybe Christians don’t consciously prioritize the praises of men over praising God, but without intentionally pushing aside the opinions, criticisms and scorn of others in order to freely worship the Lord, that is exactly what is happening. Whose opinion matters more? Confessing and praising God before others, especially in a manner that others are not used to or comfortable with, will draw stares, comments and maybe worse! But the benefit is this: Jesus Christ grabs hold of your name, and declares it before our Father in heaven! That is what I want! I want my name shouted in heaven because I’m shouting the name of Jesus here on earth! How about you? It that easy? No, not usually, but Jesus Christ is worth shouting about, even if everyone else tries to shush you. JESUS!! <3
Thought for today
Do you ever wonder why it sometimes feels like a struggle to raise your hands when no one else is? Or worship with joy and enthusiasm when everyone else is just staring straight ahead? it’s because Satan is actively working to disconnect you from the Spirit of God and he’ll use your own fear of other people’s opinions to do it! We have to get into a spirit of thanksgiving, to stir ourselves up and push past the looks. That is the essence of the sacrifice of praise. So what if you’re the only one confessing and worshipping God among thousands? Or even among 5 of your friends? Jesus is declaring your name before the Father! Who cares what everyone else thinks? So they put you out of the “synagogue” for worshippping in a manner they aren’t comfortable with, so what? Oh, they’re looking right at YOU…. but so is JESUS!