Don’t we long for God’s grace and truth? In our heart of hearts don’t we want to be obedient, serve Him, fellowship with Him? Know Him? Be His authentic follower? His disciple?
Sure we do . . . . .as long as all that doesn’t disrupt our lives.
Nicodemus had similar desires and a nagging curiosity about the new teacher in town. But Nicodemus kept his desires and curiosity close to his tunic. You see, Nicodemus had prestige and power that ranked him right up there among the big men on campus. He could flash some cash or drop a few names and get just about anything he wanted. He was a Pharisee and a member of the elite Jewish Council. He also sat on the bench of the Sanhedrin, a 71 member panel that made up the Jewish equivalent of our Supreme Court.
This guy had clout. But his nagging curiosity about Jesus drove him to tip-toe over to the wild side. He made an appointment to see Jesus. At night. When no one would see this high ranking Jewish official cross the tracks to rub elbows with the meddling Rabbi.
Nicodemus’ pals wanted to eliminate this menace, this threat to their authority.
Nicodemus wanted to meet Him and find out what He was about. But to keep his sanctimonious friends from finding out he thought he ought to go see Jesus at night.
Nicodemus may have thought he could get some inside information from the Master. Maybe he thought he could get a close up and personal glimpse of who this Rabbi really was. Maybe He thought he could become a double agent and work for Jesus, while he kept playing the faithful role of the “religious” Jewish high roller.
He had no idea Jesus was going to lay mega doses of grace and truth on him.
Nick begins the exchange by acknowledging Jesus as a teacher sent from God. Nice touch. “No one can do these things that you do unless God is with Him.” (John 3:2) Did he seriously want to know? Or was he playing Pharisee? This was a brave yet tricky departure from his pals’ way of thinking. They didn’t know what to believe about Jesus. Some self-proclaimed Jewish holy men said Jesus was from Satan. Some plotted to get rid of him. If Nicodemus told other Jewish rulers he knew Jesus was a teacher sent from God, they might order him to turn in his ephod. So he gets one leg hung out on a limb from the get-go.
Nic, are you sitting down? Brace yourself. You’re about to hear Jesus tell you what salvation and redemption and new life in Christ are all about.
Here’s the first round of truth Jesus lobs at the unsuspecting holy man.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto thee (not just “truly” but “truly truly”, you-can-take-this-to-the-bank Truth). “Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. (KJV)
There it is, folks. unabashed, eternal, no-holds-barred Truth. The two little words, “born again“, that determine the difference between life and death, condemnation and sanctification, curses and blessings, eternal fellowship with God and everlasting separation from God. The action by the Holy Spirit of God Who calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
And Nicodemus hears it first. Not Peter, James or John. Not one of His followers. Not Mary or Joseph. Not the crowds that hang on His every word. But a skeptic, a critic, a member of the opposition. The phrase, “born again” will become the mantra for all authentic followers of Christ down through the centuries and describe our new life in Christ. And Nicodemus hears it first.
But we find our friend Nic still clinging to his religious, analytic, go-by-the-book persona. He’s not convinced yet. Not moved. He has ears. And he hears. But his religion and his tradition and his stuffed shirt, stiff-necked phony-baloney position in society still clings to its logic . . .
“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?’ ” (John 3:4) (Can you hear a little chuckle in his voice? A dash of sarcasm? He still doesn’t get it, does he?)
You did it now, Nic. You opened the flood gates. You’re about to hear a barrage of Truth in spades. You wanted to find out what Jesus is all about? Well, now you will. And eventually we’ll hear the same truth and experience the same grace you did that night in your secret meeting (that really wasn’t a secret) with Jesus.
Don’t miss part II. Did you enjoy reading this? In part II of Grace And Truth For Nicodemus, we’ll explore the truths Jesus shared. We’ll also witness the pouring out of the most glorious and amazing grace on Nicodemus and all born-from-above authentic followers of Jesus.
See you next time.