The Private Jesus

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When we refer to the character of a person, we often consult what we know of them both publicly and privately. Many of us are a complex mix of private and public passions and tendencies that might make us uncomfortable to know it all. Jesus was the same in both areas of life and the more we become like Jesus, the more we reflect this as well.

If you are new to the Christian faith, the Gospel of John is probably a great place to start and then I would direct you to Mark soon after. Today is day 3 of my 30 days with Jesus reading and I was reading John 2:1-12; John 3:1-11.

I love reading from John because he focuses heavily on the intimate and private moments Jesus had with those around him. Take the first miracle of Jesus as an example, the wedding was public, but the miracle of water turned into wine was only witnessed by a select few. I love that it was Jesus’ mother that engaged the first miracle, and while Jesus most likely never performed signs up to this point, Mary just knew. The miracle glorified Jesus as the Son of God, but it also showed that God has mercy even on the finest detail of provision for us.

In John 3:1-21, we witness a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (a Jewish ruler, a Pharisee). There were two sects of religious leaders in Jewish society, Pharisees and Sadducees. Pharisees were middle-class leaders, who believed in resurrection and afterlife, less concerned about the current leadership and the temple. The Sadducees were an upper-class leadership and very much about the temple and did not believe in resurrection or afterlife. I only give that premise because Nicodemus was aware of Isaiah 53 as a religious teacher and believed in life after death.

Plain and simple, Jesus took that moment to sit down with a religious leader and share the gospel with him before the gospel was even done on earth. He got a sneak peek at the truth that was developing and Jesus was planting seeds in Nicodemus and others that once his death and resurrection came, He knew those seeds would bear fruit. I love this passage because John 3:16 is not the culmination for Nicodemus like it is for us, for a Jew the climax or bomb drop was in verse 14 and 15:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Nicodemus was already hit hard, so when the words from verse 16 were spoken, it was like a healing balm on a wound. The reference to Moses here was sharp and to the point, but exactly what a Pharisee needed to hear to understand the gospel. Moses lifted this serpent in the desert to heal the people of Israel from disease as God commanded (Number 21:9), and this serpent was put on a wooden pole and lifted amongst the people much like Jesus was lifted on a wooden cross. Nicodemus would have known that Jesus was talking about being the Messiah in Isaiah 53, that he was referring to himself as THE HEALER (Numbers 21:9), and that resurrection was through Jesus alone.

We need to be like Jesus, ready to speak into the relevance of someone else’s life. Walking with Jesus means walking away from ourselves and running towards others (Philippians 2:2-4). Do we make it a point to reach out to others and take the time to speak life into someone? Jesus spoke life into Nicodemus and many others, who then had a huge impact on others around them. You are set apart to multiply the life-giving words of the gospel and I get excited even thinking about it. It was just as much of a miracle to see a Pharisee saved as it was for the blind man to see, at least Jesus thought so.

 

Photo by Gabriel Encev on Unsplash

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