Wednesday, October 28, 2015

a Pharisee, born again

The Word for today:
John 7:25-52
Pharisees are the bad guys of the New Testament.
They were legalists who piled extra traditions on top of God's laws. They cared more about Sabbath law than about the people whom the Sabbath laws were supposed to benefit. When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees from that time forth sought to have Jesus put to death.
Jesus gave an illustration of a Pharisee's proud prayer and the humble prayer of a "low-life" tax collector--and said the tax collector, not the Pharisee, would be justified in God's eyes. Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs, full of dead men's bones (1).
'Pharisee' in our day has come to mean a person who cares more about rules than about people; a person who is more intent on academic knowledge of the Bible than real-world application of biblical principles.
I've got a little bit of Pharisee in me. Maybe you do, too. Paul, the writer of most of the epistles, was a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee (2). He was actively trying to shake free of the influence.
In the gospel of John, we briefly meet another Pharisee. We meet him in chapters 3, 7, and 19. His name is Nicodemus.
He is a polished, accomplished, and honored spiritual leader. He is a renowned teacher of Israel, on a national scale. But Jesus has to walk him, by the hand, through the basic plan of salvation in chapter three: You must be born again (3).
We don't think Nicodemus came to faith that night in chapter 3. And when we meet him here in chapter 7, we still don't think he's born again. But as he pleads with his fellow Pharisees for fairness in their judgment of Jesus, there's a hint that the seed Jesus planted in chapter three is alive and germinating.
When we meet him again in chapter 19, the one who must be born again is born again! The light broke through (see John 19:39) for Nicodemus where it breaks through for all of us who are born again--at the cross of Jesus Christ.
When you tell a person about Jesus, don't get tangled up in philosophy, or religion, or evolution, or existentialism. Turn discussions and debates to the cross--how he died to save us; and that he rose again and wants to save everyone, to make their broken lives brand new.
When you tell people about Jesus, remember Nicodemus. He was a Bible expert; he lived a moral life; he was highly educated and respected. He'd even met Jesus Christ face to face.
But only the cross could change his mind.
(1) Matthew 23:27; (2) Acts 23:6; (3) John 3:

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