Yesterday we were talking about how “belief” alone will not make you a follower of Jesus. It is what you do with that belief that determines if you are a fan or follower.
“Jesus does not hold back with Nicodemus. Following Jesus would require a commitment that would cost Nicodemus a great deal. As we look at what it means to follow Jesus, this become a theme. In fact, it’s true throughout all of Scripture. Moses couldn’t follow God without standing in front of Pharaoh. Noah couldn’t follow God without building an ark that would be ridiculed by neighbors. Daniel couldn’t follow God by praying to him alone without being thrown into the lion’s den. Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print-that’s a guarantee.” (p. 34)
Following Jesus will cost you something. Following Jesus will mess with your life.
One of my favorite stories Kyle shares is about one of his members asking (in an email) to be removed from the membership list. The reason listed, “I don’t like Kyle’s sermons.” Kyle decides to follow-up with this gentleman (which he doesn’t necessarily recommend) to try to determine just exactly what bothered this guy. During a lengthy, and I am betting awkward, conversation the guy told Kyle that when he listened to Kyle’s sermons, he felt like Kyle was trying to interfere with his life. Not surprisingly, Kyle was relieved. After all, I am pretty sure that is what a pastor is supposed to do; it is in his job description (or it should be).
“But do you hear what he is saying? He is saying-I believe in Jesus, I’m a big fan, but don’t ask me to follow. I don’t mind coming to church on weekends. I’ll pray before meals. I’ll even slap a fish on my bumper. But I don’t want Jesus to interfere with my life. When Jesus defines the relationship he wants with us he makes it clear that being a fan who believes without making a real commitment to follow isn’t an option.” (p. 36)
Whatever happened to Nicodemus?
We next see Nicodemus in John 7 where the Sanhedrin, overcome with jealousy and fear, meet to come up with a way to silence Jesus once and for all. They had to come up with a plan. Now, Nicodemus is sitting among his pears and he has a decision to make: fan or follower? Nicodemus believes in Jesus, but will he let Jesus mess up the good thing he has going. Will he risk the ridicule from his peers? Will he risk his job?
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.”[g] 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.”[h] 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.
45 When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.
47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. 48 “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? 49 This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”
50 Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. 51 “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked.
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes[i] from Galilee!”
Nicodemus did risk it all (as seen in verses 50-51)! Now, it may not appear that his fellow Pharisees had much of a response, but that is not true. The question, “are you from Galilee, too?” was clearly meant to be an insult. It was to be an accusation that Nicodemus associated with Jesus from Nazareth. Remember the scripture found in John 1:46, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” People back then thought very little of those who came from Nazareth; therefore, nobody who was anybody would want to be from Nazareth or associated with it at all. While the statement doesn’t appear all that harsh, I believe this was a warning for Nicodemus to “check himself.”
“Any hope that Nicodemus had that he could follow Jesus without it interfering with his life was shot down with that one question, “Are you from Galilee,too?” (p.37)
Have you had your defining moment? A moment in time where the line in the sand must be drawn and you must choose: fan or follower?
Is this the last we hear of Nicodemus? No.
John 19:34-40 (NLT): 38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds[k] of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.
Once again it may seem that Nicodemus’ appearance and actions are minor, but I encourage you to look more closely.
Where were Jesus’ disciples? They had followed him for three years, yet almost all had abandoned him. They were obviously not there to claim Jesus’ body and prepare Him for burial. But here comes Nicodemus with 75 pounds of perfume and such that would have been quite expensive. But the cost here is not only financial.
“Things had moved past words of belief expressed in the darkness of night. He was no longer a secret admirer. It seems he became a follower.” (p. 37)
Is it time for you to make the decision and allow Jesus to mess up your life? I’m not talking about believing in Jesus Christ. I am asking are you following Jesus Christ? Your belief in Him may get you saved, but it won’t make you a disciple; it won’t make you a Christian (Christ Follower).
Have a blessed Memorial Day Weekend!