From fan to follower
By Ysrael De la Cruz
Last week I talked about the difference between a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus. Jesus had lots of fans during his earthly ministry; those who were attracted to his deeds, miracles; Those who followed Jesus for the benefits, for what he could offer them. They did not truly believe in him as the Messiah, and they eventually they stopped being around Jesus when his teaching became too personal. Today I would like to introduce you to a man who started out as a fan of Jesus, but later became a follower of Jesus. It was unusual that a man like this would be even a fan of Jesus, since the people he represented were all against Jesus.
We are introduced to Nicodemus, a Pharisee (The righteous ones); ruler of the Jews. This man was well respected in the Jewish community. He came to Jesus at night. This was a private meeting between Nicodemus and Jesus. As a ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus wanted to find out more about Jesus for he too came teaching the people; however, this is the best scenario for Nicodemus to arrange a private meeting with Jesus at night. Just the two of them. This was much safer for Nicodemus, who was not ready to be seen with Jesus. This would not get him in trouble with his peers.
There are people who want to have a relationship with Jesus that would not impact their lives. A relationship with Jesus that would not disrupt their comfort zone.
“Fans are happy to follow Jesus as long as that doesn’t require any significant changes in their lives. There is not way to follow Jesus without him interfering in your life. Following Jesus will cost you something.” Kyle Idleman
Nicodemus wanted to know more about Jesus and he acknowledged Jesus to come from God because of the mighty works he had been performing. (v.2) He came to Jesus at night and said, “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. NIV
He recognized that Jesus had done many incredible things and he must be from God to be able to do the things he did.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (ESV)
Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant by that; He thought Jesus meant a physical rebirth from your mother. But Jesus was talking to him about a spiritual birth. Of the water and the Spirit. It was in this conversation that Jesus told him that the Son of man would be lifted the same way Moses lifted the serpent in the desert. Jesus presented God’s plan of salvation to Nicodemus (v.16) Imagine the kind of impact this meeting had on Nicodemus.
In the following chapters, John tells us that the Pharisees were jealous of Jesus because he was gaining more disciples than them. The party of the Pharisees had made a plot to get rid of Jesus. (John 5:18) The next time we hear about Nicodemus is at a meeting of the Sanhedrin; they had sent soldiers to arrest Jesus, but the soldiers did not arrest Jesus (John 7:45-52)
Nicodemus spoke in this meeting reminding them about their own law.
John 7:51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” ESV
They were already judging Jesus as a prophet without hearing him; without giving him the opportunity to present his case. Nicodemus reminded them that the law stated not to make a judgment on someone without first hearing that person yourself.
They were conflicted by the fact that if Jesus was a prophet he could not have come from Galilee. (v.41-44). Jesus traveled to Galilee, but he was truly born in Bethlehem and was raised in Nazareth. But they would have known all this if they had met with Jesus instead of judging him.
They ridiculed Nicodemus, “Are you from Galilee too, search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (v.52)
Notice how Nicodemus was courageous enough to remind them not to judge someone before hearing their side of the story.
The last time we hear about Nicodemus according to the gospel of John is after Jesus’ death. Here Nicodemus came publicly to do something that not even the apostles dared to do. When Jesus died the apostles went undercover. They hid because they were afraid that the Jews would persecute them and kill them too.
After Jesus died, a disciple of Jesus named Joseph of Arimathea came requesting permission to take the body of Jesus to give him a proper burial. He came accompanied by Nicodemus (John 19:38-42)
Nicodemus showed great devotion and commitment to Jesus coming forward here. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes. 75 pounds by our weight standard. (100 pounds or litras (libras) by Roman standard.
Nicodemus brought an expensive gift to anoint the body of Jesus. He did not care what his peers would say by coming to claim the body of Jesus for proper burial. Following Jesus is costly; you see, Nicodemus had to wrestle with this decision; can he follow Jesus and remain true to his religion as a Pharisee? Following Jesus could mean to lose popularity or prestige in the community. Are you willing to pay that price? Are you willing to count the cost for following Jesus? Being a true follower of Jesus would cost you something. It may call you to leave something behind. What would you be willing to do for Jesus?