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Broad Daylight Christians June 1, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Faith, John 19:38-42, John 3:16, Nicodemus.
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This summer I am teaching the adult Bible Study class that my wife and I attend at our church. Our regular tacher is taking some time off and I am filling in this summer. We are using Max Lucado’s book “3:16” as the basis for our study.

The focus passage for today was John 3:1-12.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You 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.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but till you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

Many things spoke to me out of such a common passage.

Nicodemus came to visit Jesus in secret. Remember, he was a very prominent Jewish leader of his day. He was a “big shot.” He was a Pharisee. He was a part of the same group that had investigated John the Baptist and they were now preparing a case against Jesus. But Nicodemus stepped away from his official investigative role and went looking for some personal answers. Nicodemus knew enough to wonder if Jesus might really be the one that was prophesied. His colleagues were not convinced, but Nicodemus was curious or intrigued enough to seek answers directly from the source.

And Jesus did not disappoint Nicodemus in terms of proving insight and information about the nature of a relationship with Himself. But Jesus spoke in spiritual terms and Nicodemus was hearing things in physical terms. He couldn’t get his mind around the concept of a faith based relationship. He was more in to doing all the right things. He was in to being in the right groups. He was in to religion. And Jesus was inviting him into a relationship.

Some of us would make good Pharisees because we tend to overlook the spiritual significance of biblical instruction, choosing instead to nitpick the minutia. Like a defense attorney on your favorite crime show, we badger the prosecution’s witness, hoping to poke holes in the testimony. We misdirect the conversation. If we can just find one loophole, then the instructions won’t apply to us.

Now contrast that with this passage later in John. John 19:38-42 says:

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 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. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Nicodemus goes to the same fellows that he was once a part of to ask for the body of Jesus christ who had just been humiliated publicly and crucified. And he does not go this time under cover of darkness. This time he goes in broad daylight. Both Joseph and Nicodemus had reason to fear the Jews. But they came anyway.

Why? What was different this time?

Nicodemus began with an interview or encounter with Jesus Christ. But that encounter changed him dramatically. He changed because he began a relationship with Jesus Christ. He came to Jesus Christ for information. And, at some point, he came to Jesus Christ in faith and became a disciple and follower. And that change was so dramatic in his life that he came to request the body of Jesus in broad daylight. He came in faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus couldn’t understand this relationship at first. Born again? He thought it was impossible. But then he experienced it. And although he may not have been eloquent in describing what had happened. There is no doubt that something happened.

So, I have a question…

When it comes to a faith-based relationship with Jesus Christ, are you studying it? Or are you experiencing it?

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