Thursday, June 05, 2014

Secret disciple

Nicodemus seeks Jesus by night - Alexandre Bida
Nicodemus seeks Jesus by night - Alexandre Bida
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 7:32-52

TO CHEW ON: "Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night being one of them) said to then, 'Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?' " John 7:51

On the last day of the feast Jesus stood in the temple and shouted out, "If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink."  

That sparked discussion ("Truly this is the Prophet." "This is the Christ." "Will the Christ come out of Galilee?") and opposition. The chief priests and Pharisees wanted Him arrested but the officers they assigned to arrest Jesus came back empty-handed saying, "No man ever spoke like this Man." The rulers responded, "Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him"

I wonder if Nicodemus answered in his head, "I have." This Pharisee, who had earlier come to Jesus by night (John 3:1-21) does here, to his credit, speak in Jesus' defense (though not directly) with: "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?"

The others put forward their objection trump card: A prophet won't come out of Galilee. Discussion closed.

We can only imagine Nicodemus's discomfort in the days ahead as the Pharisees bargained with Judas to betray Jesus and then convinced Pilate to sentence Him to die. Nicodemus did appear one more time, after Jesus' death when he and another secret, afraid-of-the-Jews Sanhedrin member disciple, Joseph of Arimathea, bound Jesus' body with spices and buried him in the garden tomb (John 19:38-42).

I wonder if Nicodemus had regrets about not being more forward in defending Jesus? No doubt if he had been, circumstances would have taken a different turn—not for Jesus perhaps, but for him. He may have lost his position as a Pharisee and with that his source of income, prestige, maybe even the support of his family. But I can only think if he had had the courage of his convictions, he would have respected himself more. To me his story is heavy with regrets.

In our time, when Christian values are trampled on more and more in the media and entertainment, are we much different than Nicodemus? When our unbelieving neighbours or friends or workmates make fun of our beliefs and mock our Saviour, do we have the courage of even Nicodemus's subtle defense of Jesus? Or do we, with our silence, also keep our discipleship secret?

Dear God, I'm too much like Nicodemus. Help me to have the courage to speak up about my beliefs. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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