Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Rabbi And The Seeker

Don't be afraid to bring your questions to Jesus.


John 3:1-10  There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.  2  After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus.

"Rabbi," he said, "we all know that God has sent You to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with You."  3  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."

4  "What do You mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"

5  Jesus replied, "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  6  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  7  So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.'  8  The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."

9  "How are these things possible?" Nicodemus asked.  10  Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things?

It didn't take long for Jesus to stir up the religious crowd, when you do something that affects somebodies wallet, they are going to notice. The Passover celebration was a huge money making event for the religious leaders but Jesus cleaned out the temple and messed up their commerce.

I wonder what the people thought when the next Passover came, were they looking for Jesus to come back into the temple and clean house? We know that the money changers and the salesmen come back by the time Jesus ministry is ending, were they nervous about going back in the first year? (Matthew 21:12-15)

There is no doubt that Nicodemus would have been at the temple that day and he probably saw what Jesus did. Jesus actions raised some questions in Nicodemus and he was bold enough to approach him to get some answers. Many pastors have preached that Nicodemus came at night because he was afraid of the other religious leaders but perhaps he came then so that he could have a deeper, intimate conversation with Jesus.
"Rabbi, we all know that God has sent You to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with You."
Nicodemus had already formed an opinion about Jesus and he gives him partial credit for who he is. Actually he says that "we all know" it seems that all of the Pharisees knew that Jesus was sent from God for some purpose, but they aren't sure why he was sent.

Nicodemus didn't know that all the attention that he was placing on works was soon going to be unnecessary. I imagine that Nicodemus was about to ask Jesus how he could know that he was going to enter the Kingdom of God when Jesus interrupted. Jesus already knew the question before it was asked so he decides to answer it, wouldn't that help validate Jesus credentials?
"I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."
As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was deep into the teaching that the law was the way to make God happy with you and therefore gain access to Heaven. Now there is a new Rabbi in town and he is talking about being born again, this doctrine sounds absurd to him, of course Nicodemus knows that he cannot physically be born again but Jesus teaching is quite difficult for him to get after a lifetime of being taught that works is the way to heaven.
"What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"
How would you feel if everything that you have been taught about how to get to heaven or how to please God was completely cast aside for a new teaching? 
Of all the people that came to Jesus so far, Nicodemus struggled the most, the fisherman were very open to Jesus and each of them followed Jesus right away but for a student that studied under a Rabbi it was much more difficult to accept.
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus doesn't mind skeptics, he doesn't mind our questions and it doesn't bother him if it takes some time to be enlightened about his ways. God already told us that our ways were not the same as his ways and so therefore we do struggle to understand. (Isaiah 55:8)

Jesus kept the conversation going by explaining to Nicodemus that having a second physical birth wouldn't improve his standing with God. This new birth comes through the Holy Spirit and cannot be accomplished by any of our impure works.

As long as you ask in the same spirit as Nicodemus you should not be afraid to bring your questions to Jesus. Nicodemus did not ask his questions the same way as the rest of the religious leaders. (John 2:18, 6:30, 10:24, 11:46-48, 18:19) It seems that Nicodemus came honestly looking for answers that would help him understand this new teaching.
Matthew 11:28-29 Then Jesus said, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jesus asked us to allow him to teach us, he is humble and gentle to those who are eager to learn from him, he will not refuse to allow you into his classroom. He is willing to teach us and help us learn the way to an eternity with him and he wants to continue teaching us how to become more like him. (John 6:37) He is an awesome teacher and we will understand a lot but there will always be more that we cannot comprehend and we will have to accept by faith.

Thank you Lord for allowing us to come with our unbelief, our questions and our doubts. Please increase our faith to trust what we cannot understand. (Luke 17:5)

Who Is Jesus (whoisjesus-really.com)