Nicodemus: an earnest seeker

Devotional thoughts for April 2020

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (John 3:1–2, NIV)

I hate it when people sissify Jesus. True, his meekness is legendary. Scripture says that the Messiah would be gentle: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench...” But that’s only half of the story. The other half is “... he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” (Isaiah 42:3) — and you can’t do that in a sinful world without upsetting the establishment.

Scripture shows Jesus “taking care of business” on more than one occasion. He chased the money-changers from the temple, he called the religious rulers hypocrites to their faces and we read where “Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” (Revelation 19:15)

So, which Lord should we follow? Jesus, the meek and lowly? Or Jesus the ruler and judge? Both are true of him, of course. In the gospel accounts, we see a man who was brought to the cross meekly — making no defense. But we also see him defending his Father’s truth — and there’s a lesson here: Jesus matched his response to the people and the situation.

When Jesus spoke to people of low station, the sick or the weak, he spoke words of comfort — and he healed those who were sick! But to those with “all the answers” — and particularly to the religious establishment — he spoke words of discomfort. In fact, except for his encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus spoke contemptuously with the leaders of the Jews.

So, what made Nicodemus different? Why didn’t Jesus call him a hypocrite? I think he liked this earnest seeker... this guy who responded honestly to the data. The council members understood that Jesus came from God — yet they dismissed him. But Nicodemus wanted more information.

He went to Jesus at night, though — so like us, he had a foot in both worlds — but unlike the Pharisees, he gave Jesus a fair hearing. And what was the result? Jesus explained how salvation would work going forward. He said, “You must be born again...” and we use that term today to differentiate ourselves from nominal Christians — and more than a few Pharisees!

I don’t mind telling you that Nicodemus is one of my heroes. He cut through his cultural bias and let the evidence speak. That’s all God asks of any of us, by the way... to give Jesus a fair hearing. God said, “... This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5). Nicodemus listened... we should listen... the world should listen....

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20200330 Nicodemus: Jesus loves an earnest seeker ).

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