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Sunday, May 22, 2011

In the cloak of darkness

1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
(John 3:1-2)

The story of Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, one of the elite group known as Pharisees, came to Jesus "under the cloak of darkness".  His reasoning was probably pretty evident - the Pharisees did not like Jesus' teachings and he would be "called out" for his behavior in seeking Jesus out.  Jesus has just finished cleaning out the temple - throwing out all the money-changers and vendors who were making a living off of selling the offerings at the steps of the temple.  He had made several important statement that day in response to the Jews' question, "What credentials can you present to us?"

Jesus' response was pretty vivid and every Jew within in hearing distance probably thought that what Jesus said bordered on the impossible.  Jesus simply says, "Tear down this Temple and in three days I'll put it back together."  They had spent forty-six years building the temple - how on earth would it come down, much less be rebuilt within three days?  To those of us that know the end of this story, we know that Jesus was referring to himself as the temple and to his death, burial and resurrection as the "rebuilding" in three days.  It wasn't until after his death, burial and resurrection that his disciples remembered these words and took some comfort in them.

I have found that remembering what Jesus says is often a product of both time and circumstance.  We often don't remember much of what he has given us in his Word and his promises until we actually need to put those things into use in our lives.  Jesus always commended the follower that would avoid the tendency to look for signs and wonders to confirm his testimony.  He focused on the gratitude of heart and the ability to connect with grace that he saw in his followers.  The same is true with us - he looks for us to make connection with him, then he will sustain us through both the hard and good times.

Nicodemus was one of the men within hearing distance that day in the Temple - it was his job to protect the temple and to confirm or deny what was taught by the Rabbis of the time.  He was a man of the Word - studied in the Law of God.  Now, we find him cloaked in the shadows of darkness, silently making his way to Jesus, so as not to be seen by those he has called "brethren" all these years.  Whether he was drawn by curiosity or need - I don't know.  The fact is that he came.

There are too many times that we are like Nicodemus - cloaking our pursuit of Jesus, not willing for others who walk in our sphere of influence to see the hunger in our hearts for more of Jesus.  Questions that burn within our spirit, hopes that yearn to be fulfilled, and needs that cry out to me met - all hidden under the cloak of darkness, so others won't see evidence of our pursuit of the only one capable of touching us as we so desperately need to be touched.

The fact of the matter is that there are many in our sphere of influence that need to make the same pursuit!  It is often in having a companion in the journey that the journey is made easiest.  Isn't it time that we come out of the cloak of darkness in our pursuit of Jesus?