Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Truth Revealed Under Cover of Darkness

In the gospel of John, chapter 3, a Pharisee that is also a member of the Sanhedrin, approaches Jesus at the place He is staying. He comes by night. His name is Nicodemus.

This is interesting. Why at night? Does he want to talk privately with Jesus or is he fearful of what the other Jews in leadership will think? Whatever the case, Jesus seems undisturbed by this intrusion into His privacy. He welcomes the questions that Nicodemus presents and there does seem to be a genuine interest on the part of Nicodemus in what Jesus has to say. Perhaps he just wants to talk to Jesus without the interference of his other more skeptical friends. This is good. It is the way we should all approach Jesus - one on one and without guile and pride in our heart.

Nicodemus was an educated man. He would have known the Law of Moses backward and forward. He would known the traditions of the Pharisees in the same fashion. His honest but covert Christ seeking is commendable. Even so, he is confused. He has never seen or heard a rabbi do or say the things that Jesus does and says. It is other worldly and spiritual in a way that the Jews were only beginning to grasp and Nicodemus does not understand. And get the impression that he is almost a believer.

   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.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Nicodemus asked one question, and an innocent one at that, and what he got was a Sunday school lesson. I am not sure that he understood what Jesus was saying, but I am certain that he thought about it for a very long time. 

This is supposed to be very basic stuff for us Christians and yet I wonder, if we really understand what this means? We say we are born again, but we continue to live lives that reek of death born in fear and darkness. If we believe, then we need to move into the light.

Once in the light, we have to live as if we were enlightened. We have to bring the grace and truth of Christ to a fallen world so they can find their way back to God. Jesus started this process with the Jews. Most of them rejected His ideas and ultimately He moved on to the Gentiles through His disciples. The idea that God would seek man was a new idea in the Gentile world. It caught on very quickly. 

I believe it also caught on with Nicodemus. He was one of two Pharisees that tended the body of our crucified Lord after His death and placed Him in that now empty tomb.

Join Nicodemus and I out here in the light. Get yourself born of the water and the Spirit and come into His glorious light.  Someday everything will be made known. There will be no more secrets, no stealthy night meetings to seek truth or anything else. 

To my brethren I would say this. Learn what it means to be truly born again. Earnestly seek Him and His will. Faith and obedience - obedience and faith. This is the path to that answer. For myself, I find daily that there are things standing in my way to Him. We have to shift those obstacles and move forward. Personal pride, anger, hatred, prejudice, unbridled desires and self righteousness - it all has to go. These are the old self that must die if the new creation is to grow in the knowledge of this new life we must embrace. Seek the light. He will be waiting there.

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