Face to Face: Nicodemus

Series: Face to Face with the Glory that Transforms
Face to Face with the Glory that Transforms #5

Nicodemus thought he was perfectly positioned for the coming of the kingdom of God:

He was born an Israelite - the nation to whom God’s promised king would come.
He was a Pharisee - an elite religious order with demands so rigorous that only 6,000 men attained it.
He was a member of the Sanhedrin court - A judicial body made up of only seventy-one men.
He was financially first-class - Jewish tradition says he was one of the three richest men in Jerusalem.
He was in a class by himself in regards to the Jewish Scriptures - Jesus calls him The teacher of Israel.  

Imagine his shock when Jesus told him that none of that qualified him to enter the kingdom of God or would even enable him to see it when it arrived. In fact, Jesus told him that if he wanted to see the kingdom he would have to completely start over. Jesus exact words were,

“You must be born again”
“You must be born of water and the Spirit.”  

He was referring to the promise found in Ezekiel, where God said the day would come when “I will sprinkle clean water on you...I will give you a new heart...and put my Spirit in you....”

It must have been extraordinarily difficult for a man as connected and accomplished as Nicodemus to hear a Galilean street preacher tell him that none of the things he thought would gain him entrance into the kingdom were of any use. But Jesus would say these kinds of things over and over:

“It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom.”
“Truly I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

Addicts and prostitutes know that they are far from God. Their struggle is to believe that God could have mercy on a sinner like them. When they learn that he will, they often come running. But the deeply religious and socially connected think their achievements commend them to God already. 

It is far more difficult for the “righteous” to repent of what they see as their virtues, than it is for “sinners” to repent of their vices. 
This hits me hard!
As a middle-class American, I’m very rich. Do I even feel my need for God as I should?
As a preacher, I think that what I do, and what I know earn points with God.

Jesus warns that such things actually blind me to the kingdom. Apart from God washing me clean, giving me a new heart, and putting his Spirit in me, I will never enter the kingdom of God. Whenever I glory in my idols of self-righteousness and religious pride, the kingdom grows distant and vague until I can't even see it as the priceless treasure that it is. The only way to clear the fog is to look back into the face of the man lifted up on the cross. There the one way into the kingdom opens before my eyes. 
This Sunday we will continue our series of encounters with Jesus that we're calling “Face to Face with the Glory that Transforms.” We will look at Jesus through the eyes of Nicodemus and catch a glimpse of what he saw.

Lost River Church of Christ 662 Dishman Lane
Sunday 9:00AM  Bible classes for all ages.
Sunday 10:00AM Worship service with a message on this theme.
Sunday 5:00PM Discussion groups where you can dive deeper and grow closer to others who are being transformed by Christ.
Wednesday 7:00 PM Bible Class

* If you want to do additional reading this week, here is a suggested list of passages: