He came to the Master under the cover of darkness.
Was he ashamed?
His motivations are not known, but he went. And after one of the most known conversations in history, the man’s life was never the same. It’s because of the questions of one Pharisee that we have the most quoted verse in all of scripture: John 3:16.
That fact gives me hope. The fact that God used a law-abiding, black and white self-righteous, judgmental, but broken-hearted Pharisee brings me such joy.
Because I’m a Pharisee at heart. I don’t know if it’s personality, temperance, the way I was raised, the church I grew up in…perhaps it’s a little bit of all of it, or none of it. But I will honestly say, “I am Pharisaical. And not proud of it.“
Life as a Pharisee is hard:
There is a mind-set of being better than others, even though deep in my heart I know I’m the insecure one.
There is a prideful arrogance that feeds off of the failures of others and the successes of myself.
There are chains of perfectionism because failure is not allowed.
There is a loneliness because a Pharisee has a hard time making friends and keeping them.
Nicodemus helped another Jewish Leader, Joseph of Arimathea, take the dead body from the cross and lay it in the tomb. What brokenness they show. Perhaps, because they knew of the grave error of the Jewish Sanhedrin, these men did the one thing they knew they could do. These men put aside their positions of authority and made themselves unclean by touching the Savior’s dead body. Yet through their act, they helped set into motion the most remarkable miracle ever.
I have dealt with my pharisaical tendencies towards people for years. Or, realistically, GOD has been dealing with these traits in me. Whenever I think I’m doing pretty well something happens (usually my fault) and God shows me another judgmental attitude I need to pull out of my heart.
The message He drills into my head is this: LOVE THEM!! No matter what.
I am thankful for the people God has placed around me because, maybe, just maybe, I’m finally learning the lessons He wants me to learn. I have some of the most lovely friends in the world and if I had met them earlier in my life, I don’t think I would have befriended them because of the sin and self-righteousness in my heart. What a sad thought that is. I would have missed out on so many blessings. [I know I missed out with the people I chose to not interact with during high school and college.]
About 8 years ago I was sitting at a Beth Moore Conference with some friends from church and it was during the invitation time. As people were coming up to the front, I couldn’t help but weep for those who were surrendering themselves to Jesus. I wept for their broken hearts and I wept for joy for their healing. A sweet lady was sitting behind me and she gave me a hug and said to me, “I love seeing your tears! You must really love lost people!”
Oh, if she only knew!!! Oh, if she only knew what a battle I have with the thoughts of judgement that I throw at “sinners!” I wanted to scream an apology to all of the people I had ever criticized aloud and in my heart. I wanted to yell how sorry I was that I was a part of a group of people in The Church who ostracize those who “don’t have it all together.” I wanted to chastise others who were like me and tell them to get off their high horses and understand that we Pharisees MUST walk over to the Samaritans and touch the prostitutes and tax collectors.
I didn’t want to act like a Pharisee anymore.
I am so thankful for the process God puts His children through to make them holy and righteous for Him because that means I don’t have to stay the way I am. I KNOW I’m not the way I used to be, but wow, I can’t wait to develop into the image of Jesus. It’s a constant fight. I have to capture words and thoughts in my brain. I have to go to the Lord, not just at night as Nicodemus did, but all the time asking Him to give me HIS eyes to see people and HIS heart to love others. And I ask for forgiveness when I mess up and humbleness because it goes against my nature.
My God is so good. His kindness is everlasting. And He loves His children enough to cause brokenness in our lives so He can be glorified forever and ever.
God used Nicodemus. The dead person Nicodemus buried rose again and lives forevermore. Maybe I can be used to help someone who is dead in his sins and tell him about Jesus who is the giver of eternal life. It’s the least I can do for the One who saved me.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son; and whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” ~ John 3:16