April 7, 2013 Pastor Scott Snowden
Close Calls- Conversations with Jesus.
Never underestimate the power of even one encounter with the truth. This is evident in the life of a man named Nicodemus. One short conversation with Jesus radically changed his life. What he heard that evening is still true today, and has the same power…
- Nicodemus _STARTS_OUT_ trying to defend his view of religion.
- He comes as a _REPRESENTATIVE_ of the Sanhedrin.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus,
a member of the Jewish ruling council.
He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know…”
John 3:1, 2
- Notice that he says “We know…” and not “I know…”
- He comes at night, for a _PRIVATE_ conversation.
Now while He (Jesus) was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast,
many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing
and believed in His name.
He (Nicodemus) came to Jesus at night…
John 2:23, 3:2
- The crowds that have gathered for Passover
make a daytime conversation impossible,
so Nicodemus comes to see Jesus “after hours.”
- Jesus immediately _CHALLENGES_ his understanding of faith and what it means to be in God’s will.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus,
“and you do not understand these things?”
- Before Nicodemus can question Jesus’ unorthodox methods,
Jesus puts him on the defensive.
Everything Nicodemus has been taught and conditioned to believe
is opened up to scrutiny.
- Nicodemus _GROWS_INTO_ a veiled defender of the truth.
- He _DEFENDS_ Jesus before his peers, the religious establishment.
“Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in Him? No!
But this mob that knows nothing of the Law- there is a curse on them.”
Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier
and who was one of their own number, asked…
- Even though his fellow leaders are threatened and insecure
Nicodemus speaks out on Jesus’ behalf.
- He asks those same peers to give Jesus a _FAIR_ hearing, to give Jesus a chance.
… “Does our Law condemn anyone
without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?”
- Hiding behind the protection of the Law,
Nicodemus asks his peers to set aside their traditions and egos
long enough to listen to Jesus with open minds.
- Nicodemus _EVENTUALLY_BECOMES_ a fearless follower of Jesus.
- After the crucifixion, Nicodemus _PREPARES_ Jesus’ body for burial.
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.
Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus,
but secretly because he feared the Jews.
With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.
He was accompanied by Nicodemus,
the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.
John 19:38, 39
- Nicodemus, by going to the Roman governor,
makes his faith in Jesus a public matter.
It is now only a matter of time before his secret is out,
and the Sanhedrin discover his “apostasy.”
- The religious establishment, aware of Jesus’ claim that He would come back from the dead, are _WATCHING_ the tomb for any signs of mischief.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day,
the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate…
his peers would find out from Pilate what he had done,
and that he would face some sort of discipline for it.
He did what was right in spite of the possible (likely) consequences.
- What did Jesus say in that short encounter that made such a change in Nicodemus?
“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
John 3:3, 6
- Salvation is not _EARNED_ by good behavior.
- No one can be good enough
because even one sin disqualifies us all.
- Salvation is not _INHERITED_ from parents or family ties.
- No one is born saved because their parents
or grandparents were saved.
- Salvation is not _GUARANTEED_ because I go to the right “church.”
- Belonging to the right group counts for nothing in God’s sight.
- Each person must put his _OWN_ faith in Jesus to be saved.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”