Unsung: The Easter version
By QuaWanna Bannarbie
It is Holy Week, which is celebrated between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. As I read the Easter story in the Bible, I was encouraged by a character that is rarely praised in the retelling of Christ’s resurrection.
I found an unsung hero, a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin ruling council of Jewish rabbi in Israel during the last days Jesus walked on the earth. We know this unpraised man as Nicodemus. He is often remembered for his time in Christ’s presence in the third chapter of the book of John. But he also appears in John 19 as a key contributor in the greatest story celebrated.
Nicodemus was a ruler in Israel who believed Jesus was the Messiah. Other priests held contempt towards him because he dared to defend Christ (John 7: 45-53). While the scripture does not give us the backstory of Nicodemus’ conversion from questioner of truth to partaker of the gospel truth, he appears in John 19 as a worthy recipient of the promises Jesus shared on earth.
After Jesus’ death on the cross, the scripture states in John 19:39-40, “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then they (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus) took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”
Nicodemus comes equipped with preparation for Jesus’ burial. While other rabbi were speaking to Pilate, crying “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews” (John 19:21), Nicodemus was preparing for a resurrection. He came to meet Joseph with costly ointment for burial fit for a king, which says much about who Nicodemus believed Jesus was.
It is important to note that the scripture makes clear that both of these men who publicly prepared Jesus for burial were once private and hidden disciples of Him. God is such a master strategist. Surely, these hidden figures were exposed at this period in Christ’s story to be public witnesses of the gospel truth they believed. Christ says to Nicodemus in their first encounter at an evening meeting, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness” (John 3:11). For one to be regarded as a faithful witness, they had to have seen and can testify of what they believe.
As I read the Easter story appearing in the book of John, I saw how remarkably God fashioned the testimony of Nicodemus. I am without a doubt that God intentionally wove Nicodemus into the history of those three days for great significance. God confirmed his witness. As it was with Nicodemus, those whom God has chosen as witness of the power of the Holy Spirit to change, God gives them a sound testimony. Their witness may be unpraised but it cannot be denied. I think that is the message behind this parallel tale of Nicodemus alongside the Passion of the Christ. God gives us a powerful testimony that the Holy Spirit has ultimate rule to resurrect each of us. Praise God for the Nicodemus testimony.
May we continue to pray for those Nicodemus testimonies we have not yet seen but believe will take place. Happy Easter and enjoy your Holy Week!
QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.