Summary: Verify messages and testimonies as did Nicodemus
March 17, 2019
Hard Core Old School Finding New Truth in Christ
Great stuff in today’s gospel reading. We start out with Nicodemus, a staunch Pharisee, “ruler of the Jews”, seeking out Jesus in the night. Here is a leader of the Pharisees, most likely a ranking member of the Sanhedrin. We must realize that the Sanhedrin were rulers of not only the temple but the Jewish community as a whole – ruling religious practices, political matters and judicial rulings. From what I gather, The Sanhedrin held court and meted out punishment except in matters of capital offenses which were handed over to the ruling Roman governing bodies.
So, Nicodemus was not your ordinary curious citizen wanting to find out more about this man Jesus. He sought a meeting with Jesus in the night or hours of darkness. Why do you suppose he went in the night? We can only assume because Scripture doesn’t reveal why. Most likely, he didn’t want to be seen visiting Jesus, who was opposed by and the object of disdain by the Sanhedrin courts or maybe he thought that his visit just would be more private and less likely to be interrupted. The significance is that he sincerely was seeking truths from this man recognized as being “from God”.
Did you watch the documentary the other night dealing with “Yahweh Ben Yahweh”, a quasi-religious cult that sprang up in Miami, Florida, several years ago? This cult grew very rapidly and gained respect from the local government. The City of Miami even honored them with a ceremony and certificate recognizing their good deeds in cleaning up the streets of the inner city of crime. But, as with most false religions, they were found to be corrupt and responsible for murdering defectors and anyone in strong opposition to their movement. They disappeared as fast as they appeared, with many being incarcerated for lengthy terms.
Jim Jones in Guyana was another as were the Davidians in Waco, Tx.
Why do I mention these? I do to make a comparison. False religions and false teachers are prevalent and seem to gain followers rapidly before coming to an abrupt demise. Why is that? I believe that the world is full of people seeking a sense of relationship with like-minded. The problem is that they do not look beyond the surface. Nicodemus wanted to find out more about Jesus and what He was teaching and practicing, rather than just jumping on board.
C.S. Lewis also comes to mind. Lewis sought out to disprove the gospel. He didn’t just make assertions and expound on what he didn’t know to be true. Lewis researched every aspect of Christianity that he could find, so as to be able to disprove the content as an atheist. Do you know what happened to C.S. Lewis? His research brought him from darkness into the Light of Jesus the Christ. Lewis became a very prolific writer of his findings and the truths of Christianity.
How wise of Nicodemus to seek the truth!
Nicodemus addresses Jesus right from the start as Rabbi, saying “no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered his questions forthright, beginning his answers with; “most assuredly, I say to you”
In other words – “To tell you the truth”; “Honestly”; “Truthfully” – “You can believe” etc.
Nicodemus had to have heard many stories of miracles, deeds and teachings attributed to Jesus. Very wisely, he sought to meet and learn from this source and Jesus certainly obliged him.
Beloved, that is exactly why I always say not to just take my word for it, not to take the word from any sermon, message or reading without confirming it in some way. No man is infallible and very few preachers will deliberately lead you astray. However, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing that will teach and preach for personal gain or some personal agenda with little concern for the truth. THAT is how cults get started. That is also how false teachers and preachers profit by promising healings, financial gain or some well sought-after results from your faithfulness and your GIFTS to that ministry.
Seek out the truth and seek out the background for the message AND the messenger.
Let us pray -
I humbly and sincerely ask for your prayers!
Note: It is the practice of this church to preach straight from the bible. We follow the lectionary assigned readings from which the sermon/messages are derived.