ou have heard much of Nicodemus, I am sure. If you have been to church for any number of times, you have probably heard of him being a sounding rode to the Holy Ghost. ¬†Perhaps you have came across his story before you‚Äôve read one of the most popular Scriptures in the Bible, John 3:16, which reads, ‚ÄúFor 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.‚ÄĚ

3:3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.

What you may not have heard, though, is the Nicodemus that struggled with his faith, even though he had been a faithful student to God's Word his entire life.  

What's striking about Nicodemus, in fact, is not his surface connection to a new birth experience, but instead his seemingly bizarre reasoning for finding a stranger in the middle of the night in the hopes of finding someone or something truly special.

Nicodemus is unlike any of the followers we see Jesus interacting with during his earthly ministry. He wasn't rich or poor, a beggar or lame man. He was a perfectly healthy and well-educated person. He was a respectable person, who made an honest living devoutly learning Scripture the best he could. The fact is nobody wants to be a beggar or a lame man. So when Jesus heals these people, we think, "good for them, they need that." But what type of healing could Jesus do on a man in whom we all already want to be like? What healing is necessary for Nicodemus?

2 He came to Jesus at night..

Who was Jesus to Nicodemus at this point but an impostor to his faith? For him, Jesus represented potentially a complete threat to his entire religious experience, to the way he had thought of God his whole life. So why would he come to Jesus with all of this on the line?

Could it be that somewhere along the way of Nicodemus' spiritual journey, he had grown tired of the typical "religious" experience? And at this was willing to meet a complete stranger in the night at the wimp of something changing inside of him?  

To Nicodemus, Jesus was a long shot at best. What would Jesus know that Nicodemus didn't? After all, Jesus wasn't a "Pharisee," a professional in the way of interpreting Scripture. Nicodemus had made a living making scripture come alive to his followers; how would Jesus do the same?  

In this lies a simple truth, you may have it all in your faith and have nothing at the same time. It's a matter of risk sometimes that tests how real your faith is.  

In this lies a simple truth, you may have it all in your faith and have nothing at the same time. It's a matter of risk sometimes that tests how real your faith is.  

Maybe you are not a sick man or a beggar, and perhaps you have been to church your entire life. Regardless, the point is this. Are you willing to risk it all at the chance of something special?  

What are you willing to risk at the chance of something being truly special? Are you ready to sacrifice your "dreams" for a spiritual stranger? Like Nicodemus, in that question, may lie the secret to your spiritual "birth."  

Don't Follow a Crazy Man

2:3 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

The Passover festival was an ancient celebration that commemorated Israel's independence from Egypt. It was expected that Israelites from all around the east would journey back to their homeland to celebrate a chapter in history. Once arrived, the journeying Israelites would make their annual sacrifices, a requirement of their faith. Because of this, marketers and merchants would drive up the prices for lambs to be sacrificed in order to increase their overall profits. For the Holy Land, this made good business sense as it grew its overall economy.

The Pharisees would populate these Passover celebrations as it was an annual homecoming for them. This was the time of year that the Pharisees were needed for their spiritual prowess in the laws of Judaism, as many incoming Israelites would need a crash course in the exact details of their sacrifices.  

To put it in other words, this was the one time in the year when the Pharisees were completely relevant, and it felt good to them even if they wouldn't admit it.  

For the Passover festival to be a success in the eyes of the people, months of preparation were required from the Pharisees and people alike. The job itself wasn't easy though, the fact that so many people were coming to town meant that everything in around the temple courts needed to be appropriately arranged. There was a precise flow of traffic to consider, ordinances to be met, sheep to sell. That sort of thing that needed an experienced hand to work it out. The Pharisees took pride in making the event a success.  

14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

So, what do you do with a man that crashes your party and makes a mockery out of your plans? What do you when you have prepared seemingly your whole life, and then suddenly everything changes?

Well, for the Pharisees, and at the risk of making the whole thing a mockery, you get him to talk out in the open. Soon enough, you believe the crazy will come out, and everyone will see and appreciate the fact you are there to save the day. Just get him to talk, and the absurd will come out.  

18 So [they] said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 The [Pharisees] then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"

Well, He spoke, and look what happened. Jesus had made the Pharisees look irrelevant in front of their peers; now, they returned the favor. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But oddly enough, this is how God works sometimes. Unless your definition of God includes the possibility of him making you feel uncomfortable, you may need to reconsider your relationship with him.  

For Nicodemus, this signaled a break in the monotonous routine of his life and offered him an invitation to follow a crazy man or not.  

But there was one man in the crowd of the Pharisees who did not join in the conversation. Oddly enough for Nicodemus, this marked something different in his life. During his whole life, his relationship with God mirrored his monotonous working life, and over time it had dried up. Ironically, the "one" he had been studying his whole life was the "one" now in the temple flipping tables.  

Sometimes we forget that God cares enough about us to come into the muck of our filthy sinful nature and flip the tables. He loves us so much that he will change it up on us.

Sometimes we forget that God cares enough about us to come into the muck of our filthy sinful nature and flip the tables. He loves us so much that he will change it up on us.

So, on the day of John 2, there could be no greater conflict of interests than that of the Pharisees and Jesus. Although they had prepared months in advance to make this event a success, Jesus ruined any hope of the event becoming a success in the eyes of the people.  

For Nicodemus, a Pharisee, this marked something different in his life. His whole life, he perceived God to be something that potentially would never disrupt anything. That he was sort of the God who appeared to his forefathers and was wise and gave excellent advice. Little did he know the very One he had spent his whole life studying was in his midst and doing the very thing his book's never told him he would do.  

You see, this is the whole idea of the Christian lifestyle sometimes. We get so accustomed to God being a certain way that we only look to him for certain things in a certain way. We give him all these prerequisites and ideas on how he should treat us and help us in our lives. We treat him as a nice man who gives great advice, and we forget that he is Saviour worthy of our complete trust and devotion.

That was the exact kind of place where Nicodemus found Jesus, in the ordinary mundane lifestyle he had hated for so long, and its the exact place where Jesus wants to find you today. He is willing if you will let him, flip the tables in your hearts that has clouded your judgment and stolen your peace. He will drive out the control that you think you need with a whip because he knows that only he can truly be in control of your life if you want peace.  

The First Time Nicodemus Met Jesus

2 He came to Jesus at night and said..

The time had come in which the peaked interest of a Pharisee had boiled over into risky decision to meet a complete stranger in the night. The actions of a crazy man, who was rumored to be driving out merchants from the temple courts, had been talked about in and around the city for days. As a result, anyone seen with Jesus would be considered equally accountable for doing such actions. So unless one was willing to face insurmountable cruelty from peers, avoidance of Jesus was probably best. However, not for Nicodemus.  

Proceeding the days after Jesus' antics in the temple courts, Nicodemus pondered the very same words Jesus had said that people had mocked..

"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."  

In Nicodemus' mind, he had heard this type of allegorical language before. Thinking of this, the words of Jeremiah surfaced..

"7:11 Do you think this temple I have claimed as my own is to be a hideout for robbers? You had better take note! I have seen for myself what you have done! says the Lord."  

Nicodemus had known the antics of God to be a little abnormal when it came to times of wickedness. So for the lunatic behavior that currently being displayed in the temple, Nicodemus wasn't quite ready to put it out that it wasn't totally necessary or an act of God. Was this crazy Jesus right? Had the temple become a place that was robbing people of physical and spiritual needs? He lined up his questions ready for Jesus to answer on the night he came to Him...

.. "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."

3 Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

4 "How can a man be born when they are old?" Nicodemus asked.

"Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!"

Nicodemus was caught off his guard; the past few days leading up to this conversation, he had thought he would be the one asking the questions, not fielding them.  

5 Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?

The once confident Nicodemus, the man who started the conversation facetiously "knowing" things about Jesus, was now left confused hearing Jesus speak and processing information at the mental rate of a small child.  

Ironically, Nicodemus was not prepared for this. Little did he know that during Jesus' earthly ministry, he was asked 183 questions, 3 of which he answered. This fact Nicodemus was introduced to quickly.  

I am sure, at some point in your life, you have fantasized about the first time you will meet God in heaven. How did this scenario play out in your head? Did you walk up to meet him and start the conversation? How many times in this scenario have you been the first one to talk?  

Like Nicodemus, you may have a lot of questions lined up in your life to ask him the first time you meet Jesus. But take a note from Nicodemus. God may not answer your questions but may have a few for you Himself.  

But take a note from Nicodemus. God may not answer your questions but may have a few for you Himself.  

Do you know what the first thing Jesus says in the Gospel of John? It was directed at the first two disciples who cried out to him, "Behold the Lamb of God (mimicking John the Baptist).  

1:38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, "What are you seeking?"

Yes, you read that right. He asked them a question. God is in the business of asking the questions, not fielding them. Are you still willing to follow him if he never answers your questions? What if the first time you meet God in heaven in plays out differently, would you still be happy that you were there?  

Today, are you in charge of all the questions in your relationship with God? When is the last time you allowed him to ask you something? Does this sound harsh to you, or are you overjoyed that God is in charge and you don't have to be in control anymore? Take a lesson from Nicodemus. God has all the answers but doesn't field many questions from those with a prideful heart.  

John 19:39 "And there came also Nicodemus.."

The passion story is well documented for a good reason. It was the most critical event in human history. Underneath the crucifixion of Jesus, which the Gospel of John calls the moment in with the disciples "behold his glory..", there was a quick cameo appearance of little known man at the cross with Jesus.  

In Johns Gospel, we do not get the 12 count of disciples that followed Jesus as we do in the other gospels. On the contrary, many followers of Jesus went with Him town to town feeding multitudes, healing the sick and raising the dead. That momentum and following, however, quickly dwindled when Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night as a "Messiah" could not be bound by human authorities, in their minds.  

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

All of these followers fell off the side of the planet by the time we get to John 19, the moment Jesus is crucified. Only the three Mary's and the beloved disciple (the author of the Gospel) are seen at the cross with Jesus, everyone else leaving Jesus for dead, including Peter, the "rock" of the church.  

However, one man resurfaced, as if forgotten from the Gospel, at the most crucial event in human history…..Nicodemus.  

… And there came also…

Maybe Nicodemus wasn't the Peter of the Gospel; he never walked on water or was told by Jesus that on him, he would "build [His] church". Yet, Jesus meant something to him. He wasn't the boy that brought Jesus the bread that fed multitudes, or even Lazarus, who was "loved by Jesus" and raised from the dead. No, on the contrary, he was the man that had all the questions about Jesus and butchered his only conversation with Him, skeptical that He was who He said He was.

Yet that very same man, in the hour that Jesus needed a follower the most, was there with the mother of Jesus holding a Savior who had died for his people, covering the sins of humankind.  

Maybe you are a Nicodemus arriving late to the story of Jesus, an "also". It doesn't matter how you got here; it's just important that you made it. It took Nicodemus a whole Gospel to get over his skepticism about Jesus, but he did and became someone who was greater than Peter in the hour Jesus needed him the most.  

Since the night Jesus redefined what it was like to be with God, Nicodemus had become hidden in the background, walking out his own Gospel of Nicodemus. He is never mentioned in the Gospel of John again (except for a brief moment in John 7:50) until the end of the 19 chapter, marking a silence period as if to be forgotten. But during this period in which the narrative doesn't follow Nicodemus, he remains in the background studying Jesus and quietly watching the miracles that were taking place.  

The night that Nicodemus had with Jesus had been like something he had never encountered before. Sure he loved God before; why else would he spent so much time reading about him, but God wasn't saving Nicodemus from anything in his life. He didn't have any reason to trust him, for he was still in control and the one who asked all the questions.  

Before that night, inside his hardest of hearts, he still felt the same and had the same struggles as everyone else. He needed to be liked and admired by his peers. But something in the eyes of Jesus on the day in the temple related to an inner journey Nicodemus was on. For the first time, he felt like he didn't have to do it alone.  

John 19:39 "And there came also Nicodemus.."

The idea of a "Messiah" being put to death was anti climatical for the followers of Jesus. Many left him for dead and retreated to their homes at the thought of a "Messiah" hanging on the cross suffocating into his own death. The "King of the Jews," as the Romans mockingly put it, was hanging on a cross, a sight that not even the Religious leaders wanted to think of.

Although Jesus had warned his followers that the physical end of his life was coming to an end, many did not want to accept it and shoved the idea. However, the reality was settling in; Jesus was gone seemingly forever.  

Interestingly enough, of all the miraculous things Jesus had accomplished on earth, there was one thing that he could not provide for himself, a burial. Jesus made no arrangements for his body if anything, he made arrangements for everyone else except himself. Jesus on the cross, thought of the live-hood of his mother after he would be put to death.  

26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman,[b] here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Seemingly Jesus took care of everyone but himself. Whatever the case was for his reasoning, one thing was clear; he needed a resting spot for his body while his Spirit triumphed over death. But who would take on such a task?  

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.

A night before Jesus was reclining with his disciples at the last supper, a list that included Peter and the disciple in whom Jesus loved. Yet, not one of them could take on the task of caring for their seemingly "dead" King. They shrunk at the thought of it. However, not Nicodemus.  

Instead of running from the fact that his personal King was "dead", Nicodemus got his hands dirty so to speak and coordinated with a religious friend the rights to Jesus' body in order to give him the burial they thought he deserved as a king.  

Jesus Christ was unrecognizable as a person. It was easy, a popular thing to do, in fact, to be with Jesus as he was raising people from the dead. But presently, he was better left for dead. He would want to see Jesus in the state in which Psalms 22:14 describes as;

[He is] poured out like water,

 and all [his] bones are out of joint.

[His] heart has turned to wax;

 it has melted within [him].

Nicodemus was skeptical of Jesus at the beginning, and his skepticism was realized even more in Jesus' death. Yet, he cared for Jesus in the very time in which Jesus needed him the most. Truly while Jesus was triumphing over the grave, Nicodemus was triumphing into his faith in Jesus. When those around lost hope, Nicodemus never gave up on giving what Jesus deserved.  

The Man Who Came To Jesus At Night

John 19:39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.

Nicodemus wasn't the Peter of the Gospels; he never walked on water or was told by Jesus that on him, he would "build [His] church." He wasn't rich or poor, a beggar or lame man. No, on the contrary, he was the man that had all the questions about Jesus and butchered his only conversation with Him, skeptical that He was who He said He was. And he held this identity until the end of Jesus' life.  

He was one of the only followers of Jesus who was never "seen" with him. Both times he is mentioned with Jesus "night" had already fallen both on a natural level, as well as a spiritual one. To this token, Nicodemus was the man described as "the man who had come to Jesus at night" at the end of Jesus' life so that we would remember who he was. He was that far removed from Jesus' life in the "light."  

Nicodemus was a forgotten follower of Jesus, and for him, that was a good thing. He could grow in his relationship with Jesus at his own pace and didn't have to answer to anyone regarding his shortcomings. This was a large fall from the man who began his conversation with Jesus in John 3, "knowing" many things about Jesus. Furthermore, at the end of John 19, he was the man who "knew" the only thing he needed to do was to take care of Jesus. Nicodemus never gave up on ridding himself of his skeptic heart, and Jesus never gave up on ridding Nicodemus of the same.  

Take it from Nicodemus; you don't have to be the one who has the answers in your relationship with God to be in the "know." The "knowing" comes in your ability not to understand, but to allow God to understand for you. This is the same freedom that allowed Nicodemus to become greater than any other disciple in the hour of Jesus' death. This is the type of future received for those who choose to never give up on their faith, even the best of your faith is as dark the "night" to everyone else.  









Oct 25, 2019

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