Nicodemus

A few of the leaders of Israel were open to the ministry of Jesus.
Among them was Nicodemus, a man of reason and integrity who saw past the surface of things to the structures beneath. He was troubled by the gap, the incredible distance between the lives he and his contemporaries lived and the life the Covenant with Jehovah promised. He did what he could to make things better, to make everyday life a better reflection of how things should be. This passion opened the pathways of leadership to him as his peers and those younger turned to him for guidance.

More Problems than Just the Romans
He knew that the shortcomings of life in Israel were rooted as much in the vacant spirituality of the Temple as they were in the occupying Roman forces. It was just too easy to blame everything on Rome. The historical record was clear; when God’s People were true in their worship and in their covenantal responsibilities, Jehovah had proved to be their protector and rescuer. Nicodemus had a deep conviction that the experience of the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians could be the fate of Rome if the heart of the nation turned back to God.

Something was missing.
Nicodemus believed in God. He was faithful in daily prayers from the psalms. When David and the other poets spoke of the nearness of God or their delight in the Lord, these things rang true to Nicodemus. He studied the histories and was determined to learn from them and not to repeat the failures of his forebears. He wept as he read the prophets with their calls to repentance. He did not understand how the priests and other leaders could read and chant the Word of God and not be changed by the power of these sayings. How could they settle for a form of godliness that was totally devoid of power? He did his part in public with solemnity, hiding his breaking heart but inwardly, and in the quiet of his chamber, he wept.

Then Came Jesus
Before he even saw his first miracle, the words and manner of Jesus captured the hopes of Nicodemus. The miracles themselves demanded action on his part. He was puzzled by the reactions of the other leaders; they saw Jesus as a threat. Nicodemus saw hope, a hope upon which he had to act. He came to Jesus under the cover of darkness.

On this night, the Father had work for Him to do so Jesus knew in His spirit that He must stay in the city. He sent the disciples out to their resting place as He waited in the shadows. Nicodemus had been following Him, looking for an opportunity. When He saw Jesus alone, he approached respectfully, reasonably.

“Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Logic was the friend of Nicodemus. He questioned the values of the other leaders with reasoning, not blind loyalty. This made him dangerous and unpredictable. Jesus, however, wanted to take him deeper than logic.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

This made no sense so Nicodemus protested.

“How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

This was to be a night like no other.

Scriptures:
John 3:1-4

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for this journey of faith! You are leading me to places I never dreamed of. There have been mountaintops of revelation and deep valleys of fear but You have been with me every step of the way. As You did Nicodemus, You are leading me higher in You and deeper in faith. I will use my logic for my mind came from You. And, I will trust with my heart, for it is Your dwelling place. Wherever You lead, I know You are in command. Amen.

Song:
Ye Must Be Born Again

Words: William T. Spencer; Music: George C. Stebbins

1. A ruler once came to Jesus by night
To ask Him the way of salvation and light;
The Master made answer in words true and plain,
“Ye must be born again.

Refrain: Ye must be born again, Ye must be born again;
I verily, verily say unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

2. Ye children of men, attend to the word
So solemnly uttered by Jesus the Lord;
And let not this message to you be in vain,
“Ye must be born again.

Refrain

3. O ye who would enter that glorious rest,
And sing with the ransomed the song of the blest,
The life everlasting if ye would obtain,
“Ye must be born again.

Refrain

4. A dear one in heaven thy heart yearns to see,
At the beautiful gate may be watching for thee,
Then list to the note of this solemn refrain,
“Ye must be born again.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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