Am I a Pharisee?
Am I an individual who is more concerned with the laws than the lost?
These two questions challenged me this week as Brad walked us through the story of Nicodemus. Nicodemus, a Pharisee (a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written Hebrew Law), approaches Jesus at night and is challenged to be born again.
Jesus recognized that Nicodemus, like most Pharisees, were more concerned about loving the laws than loving people. Because of this, Jesus says that he needs to be born again so that he will truly understand what the Hebrew Law was created for. It was never created to exclude "others." It was created to draw us nearer to God. The author of Hebrews writes this in chapter 8:6-8,
"6 Now, however, Jesus has received a much more excellent ministry, just as the covenant He mediates is better and is founded on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been without fault, no place would have been sought for a second. 8 But God found fault with the people and said this... (refer to Jeremiah 31:31-34)."
The entire Jewish nation misused and misinterpreted the Old Covenant. It was originally designed to push us closer to God, never farther. Nicodemus did not understand this at first, but after interacting with Jesus, it started to make sense.
Love broke through.
After Jesus is crucified, Nicodemus and Joseph (another disciple/follower), buried Jesus. There was something about the way that Jesus loved people that captured Nicodemus's attention for life. There was something about the way that He pursued everyone that encouraged him to be born again. Something that challenged him to put away his unhealthy desire to follow the law, and start pursuing people in love... Just as Jesus had done with Him.
So I ask again, are you a Pharisee? Are you an individual who is more concerned with the laws than the lost? Do you need to be born again?
We challenge you to take these three next steps this week to prepare you heart for the teaching:
1) Listen to Brandon Heath's song, "Give me your eyes." Ask God to wreck your heart for what wrecks His.
2) Spend five minutes praying for New Zealand
3) Read Matthew 18 to prepare your heart for the message
Join us Sunday at 9:00 or 10:30 as we meet the Jesus that changes everything