God Also Reaches the Powerful and Influential

God always reserves for Himself a witness, and His witnesses are not necessary always the poor and worldly uninfluential. In John 3:1-8 we learn that Nicodemus was not poor nor was he without influence. He represented the ruling class of his day and was a member of the Jewish ruling Council.    Sometimes we subconsciously close the door to salvation on the biggest leaders of our day. So can President President’s Trump, Putin, Marcon, Maduro, and Chancellor Merkel be saved… and when I say saved I mean born-again saved, water-baptized and Holy-Ghost filled?   And if you answered, “yes”, do you really believe that?   If you do, then my next question is, “when last have you prayed for them to this end?”   This is strategic evangelism.   The Angels in heaven rejoice over one soul that repents, whether that be the soul of a poor person, or the soul of a rich person.  But just think of the difference it would make on earth if one of these World Leaders were converted and began to publicly share their faith and live as a Disciple of Jesus Christ.  And is my recommendation revolutionary?   Not exactly. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”

Nicodemus came to Jesus.  We just emphasized that we must believe that the grace of God can just as easily reach to the powerful and rich as it can to the weak and poor. It is true that Jesus said in Matthew 19:23-24, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”   But also remember that He said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

But it is also important to recognize that although Nicodemus approached Jesus, it was God who drew him to Jesus. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44) This should give us the confidence to know that it is not our prayers that will save a man or woman. “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

Nicodemus made a confession that indicates the heart of the problem of sin and the rejection of God’s salvation.  He said in John 3:2, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”  The word to watch here is “we”.  We who? Well, we are told that he was a member of the Ruling Council of the Jews.   It seems most likely that it is to this body, or at least to significant numbers of its members that he was referring. So why did Nicodemus alone come?   In Romans 2:14-15 Paul argues that God has placed certain safe-guards in place that guarantee that no man will have an excuse before Him.   In this instance, it is his own heart and conscience that will witness against him. In Romans 1:20 Paul is even more explicit. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Jesus then proceeds to teach Nicodemus in John 3:3-21. This episode concludes without any indication as to whether or not Nicodemus was converted. But the next time we hear of Nicodemus is in John 7:50-51 after a botched attempt to arrest Jesus by the Sanhedrin to which Nicodemus belonged. “Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

This question from Nicodemus was most significant. First, let us note that after his encounter with Jesus which I believe resulted in his conversion, he did not resign from the Sanhedrin. God can use us wherever we are, although, admittedly, it is harder to witness for Jesus in a Strip Club with girls climbing up and down poles. Clearly, God will give wisdom in every situation. However the principle is valid. God can use you wherever He places you, because it is He who has placed you there until He tells you it is time to leave.   Nicodemus remained in place and as such was able to be relevant, even if it was only to serve as yet another stab at the collective conscience of the members of the Sanhedrin.

But equally notice what the Pharisees said in John 7:48-49 – “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”  It was against this background that Nicodemus stood up and evidently spoke up for Jesus on a matter of principle and law, which was more than his colleagues were prepared to do. His contribution was poignant enough to attract their mocking scorn, just as they mocked the soldiers who failed to arrest Jesus.   In John 7:52, addressing Nicodemus, they said, “They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

It is out of this incident with Nicodemus we get one of the most well-known and loved verse in the Bible – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org

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