There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 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.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you [all] are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Is it possible to know that something is good but not see its full worth? Nicodemus went to Jesus on behalf of the Pharisees, for what specifically, I don’t know–perhaps to “reason” with Him to stop challenging their religious customs and traditions…maybe to recruit him, or to feel him out. But he made an admission while speaking to Him: “We all know that God has sent you to teach us.” But there was something he was missing. He said they all knew Jesus was a teacher sent by God. Jesus pointed out that they all were not seeing the Kingdom Jesus reigned over.
Jesus hadn’t come merely to be another teacher, or solely to clarify things of the law. He came to be their King. And not just their King, but their King and Savior of all who would receive Him (John 3:16). They didn’t see all of that. They just saw a teacher. They needed new eyes, and a new heart and a new Spirit. “That which is born of flesh is flesh,” Jesus enlightened, “and that which is born of Spirit is Spirit.” Until they received newnesss of life, they would only see him as Teacher. And he could only be their Judge (John 3:17).
It’s like when you hear someone say something, but it doesn’t quite register. You know something was said, but you fail to capture its fullness.
We can’t make the mistake Nicodemus and his boys did–Jesus is not just here to teach us. He is here to be our King and our Savior. But unless we are born again and enabled to see that, He will be our Judge (John 3:17).
What made it hard for them to see Him? I contend that it was that Jesus interrupted their lives and their ways of life. There were obviously some impressive things Jesus had been doing among them. John 2:23 says he did many miraculous signs. They saw a benefit that he offered. But they also saw him flipping over their tables and shewing away vendors–vendors that perhaps had paid them to rent space to sell their cattle and doves and to set up currency changing tables. They didn’t want that part of Jesus that was disruptive to what was precious and lucrative for them. They wanted the Teacher. NOT the King.
LORD, let me desire ALL of You — even when you disrupt my way of life! Let me view you as King and Savior, and not merely as Teacher.