2007-03-08 - A Troubled Man
Originally Published 2000-04-06
John 3:1-3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." (NAS)
Nicodemus had come under cover of darkness to find Rabbi Jesus bar Joseph of Nazareth. He had moved with as much stealth as possible for a man of his years. His mission was personal and deeply urgent. Nicodemus had questions that the jeers and the scoffs of his compatriots could not squelch. He suspected a plot to kill Jesus. With the Passover approaching, emotions were high and a confrontation could happen at any time. There were questions gnawing at Nicodemus and he had to know the answers to them.
I am told that the High Priest had gone wailing through the streets of Jerusalem when Rome removed the sovereign right of Israel to use capital punishment. The scepter had been taken from the hand of Judah. The Messiah that they were looking for, a powerful figure who would throw off their enemies, had not materialized. The word of God had apparently been broken, and was no longer trusted. The ramifications were dire. Either God had broken His promise because Israel was out of favor with God or He did not exist at all.
Gen 49:10 "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (NAS)
There was another way to look at it, of course. The Messiah had arrived. He was simply not who they had expected Him to be. The Savior of Israel had come as a tiny baby. The second person of the Trinity had condescended to put aside some of His omnipotent power and to be born into human flesh. Nicodemus struggled with the questions in his mind. The Messiah was to have been born in Bethlehem, but Jesus was from the poor village of Nazareth. But Jesus was about the right age to have been born during the census. His family was supposed to be of King David's line. Could he have been born in Jerusalem during that tumultuous time?
Jesus had reported that He brought back Larazrus of Bethany from death, dead three days! The stories of bread multiplied to feed throngs of listeners, more stores of healings and power beyond reason. Then there was his teaching. It was gentle, yet compelling with the powerful ring of truth, compassion and authority in every word. This itinerate Rabbi had confounded his contemporaries, who were masters in debate. They had been silenced with rapier sharp questions. Could this Jesus be the One? Many felt he was the Messiah. Nicodemus felt the pull on his heart, but he had so many questions.
Do you have questions? Are you troubled like Nicodemus? Do you fear the reproach of your peers and of those whom you respect, but the questions will not leave your mind and heart? There are some things that go beyond this realm of earthly importance to the point where eternity is at stake. Nicodemus risked his political and spiritual position to meet with Jesus that evening. The fact that he understood the eternal urgency of his questions only deepened the need in his heart to meet with this Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth.
Many of his compatriots missed the significance of removal of the scepter from Israel. That mistaken understanding led to the logic that said, Jesus could not be the promised Messiah that He claimed to be. Nicodemus risked nearly everything to get his answers. This shows wisdom we may not fully comprehend unless we have been in his urgently searching shoes. There was a conflict between his understanding and the truths that Jesus spoke that beset his heart and mind. His meeting with Jesus answered the burning questions he had come with and sent his home with new ones. But the fire that burned was no longer a troubled soul, but a burning desire to know more about this man sent from God - this man Who was a literal walking conflict being fully God and fully man.
Do you have questions? What is eternity worth to you?
John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (NAS)
Lord Jesus - give courage to those who have questions to urgently seek the answers, for the day is long spent and night approaches. Now is the day of salvation. Amen.
Grace & Peace,