While preparing for a message, I was captivated by the encounter our Lord had with Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of John. In it, I saw parallels to our past, and to a current truth that maintains a steady doggy paddle, keeping its head slightly above the water line.Nicodemus, and others, realize that Jesus is sent from God. They have watched Him, and because of what they have seen and the interaction they have had with Him, they realize that what has been said about Him by some is not true, and that was professed by others was accurate. He seeks Him out to learn more and to build a personal but private relationship with Him, because he and others know that a public relationship with Him could mean losing membership in the Jewish ruling council, which means a loss of financial standing, a decline in social status and weakening of political power. Nicodemus, would be treated like he and others were treating the Samaritans if he acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah was baptized and became a disciple.
The truth of the matter; Nicodemus, like many of us know truth, but desire not to feel the weight of being an outcast or a minority in the same system and circumstances that have allowed us to prosper. In truth, we are aligned in a sort of union, that requires members to remain uniformed for the sake and benefit of the whole, and those who break picket lines are punished with a disdain that is far greater than the ones who originally started on the opposite side of the line.
Though it would seem the choice for Christ would be simple after seeing the miracles, but overcoming years of tradition, pressures of correcting wrongs, and the pressure to undo that which you have benefited from cause what should be simple, very complex. The reality; nobody, I mean Nobody wants to be called a Jesus Lover!
Simple right? It’s Christ! You can follow the one that has the wisdom, and the power of heaven in earth in His hands. You can be like the one who cast our demons and calms storms with a voice as calm as the waters He desires to see. You can walk side by side with the one who has understanding of how the worlds systems and how to use them to live life and life to the full. The reality; nobody, I mean Nobody wants to be called an Uncle Thomas!
It is funny how our social and economic status aide us in suppressing what we know to be true. It pains me to know that Nicodemus would meet privately with the Lord, and then sit in groups where plans were made to set Him up for Crucifixion. Its sad to know that some of the silver that went to fund Judas’s efforts might have crossed through the money bag of Nicodemus and some other sympathizers, who chose to stay aligned with the current system for their own benefit and comfort! It is down right sickening, to think that Nicodemus and others might have been present when people were speaking negative about the Lord, and celebrating a system that was aligned so well religiously and politically, that they chose to support it, rather than take a chance to stand in agreement with what they new to be right for the sake of being comfortable in wrong. It’s just sickening to know that someone would sit on their hands and watch the persecution of another human being, witnessing Him being tried, beaten beyond recognition, crucified only to crawl out of His cave to with Joseph, another secret disciple, to retrieve His body and prepare it for the grave.
I shed a tear, knowing that many of us will and have treated others the same way. We sit in meetings and family gatherings, and silently agree and vocally support the ignorance we know to be outdated and in need of change. We cheer from afar, wanting a better day, and hoping our kids will follow our private instructions and not our public example. We allow those we care for to leave this earth, never acknowledging right or wrong, giving the honor of a public relationship, choosing to let our friends and companions, suffer the shame of having a friend that will not publicly acknowledge or highlight their person hood for fear of being labeled and restricted from their social and economic circles.
Jesus let Nicodemus know that he must do more than know the truth. He must be reborn! He must literally become a new creation. He must step down from the tradition that has lifted him above the rest, and step up to the plate for righteousness sake. He must undo the weaving of training that has lead him to put himself before the others, and began to consider love others as much as he loves his own self. We must do the same!
Being a “Jesus Lover” or an “Uncle Thomas’ isn’t the worst thing! Or is it?