Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jesus, the Man whom Nicodemus was willing to Risk his Reputation

After dark one evening, [Nicodemus] came to speak with Jesus, ‘Rabbi,’ he said, ‘we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you’
(John 3:2, NLT).

[CLICK HERE to read the context of this verse] Instead of asking a question, Nicodemus offered a compliment to Jesus. We don’t know if he wanted to make a good impression or whether he simply wanted to get to the heart of the matter. But as we see, Jesus responded with an answer to the question that Nicodemus was really asking but hadn’t put into words (John 3:3).

The Scripture mentions that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The setting tells us Nicodemus wasn’t eager to be seen. He didn’t approach Jesus at high noon because he was a man trying to make up his mind about Jesus. He knew what many of his fellow Pharisees were saying about Jesus, but he wasn’t sure who Jesus was. (The “we all know” hints that he was not the only Pharisee who felt this way.) Nicodemus was close to the Kingdom, but he hadn’t stepped over the border yet.

Nicodemus used two phrases to describe how he understood Jesus: “God has sent you” and “God is with you.” This was about as far as an Old Testament Jew could allow himself to go in acknowledging divine approval over someone’s life and work. For devout Jews the question was, “If I believe in you, Jesus, how does that change my view of God?” Nicodemus was willing to recognize that Jesus’ words and works originated with God, but he wasn’t sure what to do with Jesus himself. Jesus responded to Nicodemus’s compliment by giving him an unexpected message from God (read John 3:1-21).

Think about this: Contrary to most of us, Nicodemus, the Pharisee, was risking his reputation and perhaps his life by being with Jesus, the Controversial Preacher. Our standards of privacy protect our freedom to believe, but they also make it very easy to hold beliefs that fail to change us or to change our lifestyles. Nicodemus knew that what he did about would change everything else. He just didn’t know how – yet.

But two things are sure of Nicodemus the Pharisee;
He wanted to know the truth about Jesus,
and he was willing to risk his reputation – his life to see Jesus in person.
Are you willing to be like Nicodemus?

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