Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
09/16/16 – 573 – Jesus & Nicodemus
There’s one big word we toss around in Christian circles that most of us like just fine when it’s directed at someone else – but not when it’s pointed at us. That word is ‘accountability’. People back in Jesus time didn’t like it either – especially when it was Jesus who was using it. In any of its forms.
The concept Jesus used was actually pretty simple. If you say you know what you’re talking about, you’d better know what you’re talking about. The Pharisees were a group we hear about often in the New Testament. Why? Because they were supposed to be the guys who knew the scriptures.
They were the community leaders. They were the ones who stood up in public and prayed loudly to thank God that He had not made them like other men (sinners), women or dogs. They were the ones that were always asking Jesus ‘trick’ questions, trying to get Him to trip up. One of these Pharisees was a man named Nicodemus a real big shot…
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 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.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
And, that was usually how things turned out when someone tried to trip up Jesus using the Bible. I truly wish that we could see the look on Nicodemus’ face, hear the tone of his voice as he asked these questions. Was he seriously trying to understand? Was he sneering, asking more for the benefit of the people around them, thinking that Jesus would wind up looking foolish?
Jesus certainly didn’t wasn’t pulling any punches. He held Nicodemus accountable right there in front of everyone for not only already knowing but understanding these things!
To his credit, Nicodemus may have been really seeking to learn. He came to Jesus “at night”. He also turned out not to be such a bad guy later on, but we’ll get to the that tomorrow. For today, let’s pray that God would always hold us accountable for what we’re supposed to know, because it is the only way we can come to reach our full potential as His disciples.