"Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Nicodemus made an important decision that night. He decided to go.
Earlier this week, Scott gave us a definition of the Pharisees, "a political party, a social movement, and school of thought in the Holy Land during the Second Temple period." Through Scott's writing we were specifically able to glimpse Nicodemus' prestigious role in the Jewish community. The Pharisees were highly respected as they intimately knew the scriptures and they outwardly professed their faith. These were men who had dedicated their lives to the spiritual. At the same time, they were human and clearly made mistakes and some really bad decisions. And somehow this sounds familiar to me.
I must confess to you...the Pharisees of that day may now...be me...and my church. Some of us have been taught the Bible since we were toddlers. We've heard sermons and attended Bible study our entire lives. Is it possible that we've lived in this place of faith for so long that we have come to a place in our hearts of simply going through the motions? Could that be a Pharisee moment in me? I don't mean to focus on outward appearances and forget the grace and mercy of our God. I don't mean to forget the coming of the Savior into the world but it's Dec. 3 and I don't even have a Christmas tree up yet! And to be almost-totally honest, I blazed through Thanksgiving week with barely a thought of the Savior of the world because I had six days of company in my house, cooking, a dinner party, travel, and football!
So I find myself needing to come to Jesus too. In the stillness of the night when all is quiet and it is just me and Him. It is in that place that I am able to unrobe from my Pharisee gown and tell Him my whole truth. Nicodemus says to Jesus, "we KNOW that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him."
WE KNOW. I know you have come from God and I know this Christmas season is about your coming to get us and save us. I know that I and my church get mired in the production and entrapments of Christmas but we know. We really know who YOU are for no one could do what you've done and not be God.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:8-15.We find shepherds who also experienced God at night. They were terrified but they heard the message and they believed...And they KNEW. And as a body of believers, the church, in that lonely field that night they looked at each other now realizing the truth and chose to go. They chose to leave their work, leave the familiar, leave the surrounding expectations and to go see the Savior. That is exactly what Nicodemus chose also. He knew Jesus was God. He chose to leave the entrapments of his prestige and position to go to Jesus. I wonder if Nicodemus felt an amazing sense of relief and peace as he came to meet Jesus.
Is that my desire? Is that a choice I will make this December? Can I choose to leave the familiar and the typical seasonal expectations and live my life as though I really know what the Christmas season represents. It's a choice I can make to go meet Him. Do I dare take off the entrapments of christmas-doings? Can I go into the world around me and tell what I know? Can you? Will you?
Let's go to those outside our inner circle who are standing in vacant fields just waiting to hear the message of hope and healing that is only offered in this Christmas. We know HE has come into our world. Let's go!