“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3)
The Pharisees were a Jewish ruling class. Jesus had many harsh criticisms for them, and with good reason. As religious leaders, they were dishonest because they didn’t preach the truth from scripture. Instead, they substituted man-made religious traditions for God’s word. That’s why Jesus had sharp words for them, like, “Ye are of your father the devil…” (John 8:44), and “…ye are not of God.” (John 8:47). Even today, any so-called “minister” who doesn’t preach the Bible as God’s word and puts doubt on God’s word is dishonest like the Pharisees were and has no business calling himself a “minister.”
Many of the Pharisees hated Jesus. They wanted him destroyed for exposing their hypocrisy. Others, like Nicodemus, were honest enough to know that Jesus’ words about the Pharisees, harsh as they were, were true. Obviously, quite a few of them realized that Jesus was of God. That’s why Nicodemus told Jesus, “Rabbi, WE [capitals are mine] know that thou art a teacher come from God” (John 3:2).
Nicodemus wanted to hear more of what Jesus had to say. God was also convincing him, although he probably didn’t realize it just then, that he needed to receive Jesus as Saviour. So why did he come to Jesus by night? He obviously knew that many of his fellow Pharisees hated Jesus. Most likely, then, he didn’t want to raise eyebrows among the Pharisees, so he met Jesus when he wasn’t likely to be seen.
When Nicodemus told Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God,” Jesus didn’t thank him and end the conversation right there. It wasn’t enough that Nicodemus respected Jesus as a teacher come from God. Jesus got to the heart of the matter. He told Nicodemus that he needed to receive Jesus as Saviour. Nicodemus needed to be born again: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7).
In any secular environment where you strive to live for Christ, you can expect some people—not all, but some—to dislike you because of “your religion.” That’s the price of doing business. Don’t let the devil use difficulty like that to convince you to quit serving the Lord and sharing Christ. Romans 12:21 says to “…overcome evil with good.” It doesn’t say, “…oppose evil with good,” but “…OVERCOME [capitals are mine] evil with good.” When you do good to people, even if they intend evil toward you, you’ll overcome by God’s grace.
You also may not see God working in people’s hearts, but he is; just like God was working to convince Nicodemus to receive Jesus as Saviour, so he’s working on those around you. You never know when a co-worker will come to you “by night,” privately. He may be in a personal crisis, or he just realizes his lost condition. He doesn’t want to talk with his buddies from the bar, the union, or the softball league. He wants someone who knows the Bible and knows that God is real. Then you’ll have your chance to show him compassion, pray for him, and most importantly, share with him how to be born again.
If you want to see how to be sure of a home in heaven by receiving Jesus as Saviour, please click “How do I go to Heaven?” on the sidebar.
Brian Miller 5/16/2015
Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216/671-2822