The Nicodemus syndromE
The hardest thing for me to come to grips with is one experience of Jesus that directly impacts my life. Now, I'm not trying to elevate my ego, because I do acknowledge, at times, I do have an ego - for I'm human. So, in this instance, I am just being transparent here.
One thing I had to accept about Jesus' ministry is that when taking into consideration the entire population during his era; only a hand full of people actually received his message. The masses and that is including people he grew up with, loved, family, and even childhood friends, eventually rejected him after he fully stepped into his ministry; and clearly identified himself as the Messiah - the Son of God. In fact, the masses participated in persecuting Jesus and joined in the shouts of praise - "crucify him!"
But what is more interesting to me about the people surrounding Jesus is that many had what I like to call the "Nicodemus syndrome". Nicodemus as we know was a man of the elite class. A prominent member of the Sandedrin, the Jewish supreme court, as well as a part of the religious sect the Pharisees and a renowned Bible teacher. When he first encountered Jesus in his ministry, he was taken aback by Jesus - his ministry, his knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures, the power and authority he carried, and his whole persona. But Nicodemus found himself in a catch-22. He longed for regular interaction with Jesus, but he was a man of status. He loved his connection and the approval of man. Therefore, he could not dare be seen regularly interacting, let alone, gaining knowledge and understanding from an esteemed and a good man as Jesus. He would lose his position among his peers, relationships, friends, his social rank if he went public that he supported and agreed with Jesus' ministry. So, to satisfy his thirst, what did he do? He visited Jesus under the cover of night where no one would know about his interaction with Jesus. Now, the Scripture only alludes to one account of Nicodemus visiting Jesus at night. But I'm confident Nicodemus often visited Jesus under the darkness of night. I just cannot imagine anyone can have one interaction with Jesus and be satisfied. You are prone to keep going back for more. That's my opinion.
Now, why do I bring this up? Because I believe that most people are like Nicodemus. When they encounter real men and women of God, they are taken aback by these individuals. But like Nicodemus, people don't want to be seen with such clean, moral, and spiritual individuals. This would strain their reputation, their friends' status with others, and they fear being rejected by accepting true servants of God. So, they opt to form social ties with these individuals under the secrecy of social media platforms like Facebook. Constantly visiting these men and women of God's content to get their appetite, fill by what is good, righteous, knowledgeable, and holy – as Nicodemus did concerning Jesus.
What is interesting about Nicodemus' story is we do not know what Nicodemus' true status became after he fell asleep in death because the Scriptures do not reflect whether Nicodemus fully received Christ or not. But Nicodemus longed to benefit from what Jesus had to offer. He wanted more insight into the wisdom and knowledge that Jesus possessed. Nicodemus wanted to have his cake and eat it too. But as we know, that is not quite how life works. Jesus puts it this way. "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).
We often deny ourselves the privilege of experiencing what is good and righteous and moral and holy in order to maintain the position and status, we have with people who cannot improve our lot in life nor guarantee us life.
So, coming to understand this, I should rest in the fact that I am in good company with Christ when the masses choose not receive me. (Compare to John 1:11; Psalm 27:10; John 15:18). Where I am from; I grew up, if you want to say – popular and well-liked. Because of this childhood experience, one of the first major hurdle I had to master and to learn to overcome was being accepted and being well-liked by the masses. For when I made the conscious decision to go all in and fully live for Christ and to live by the model and moral standard he set for all of mankind. At the time, I really did not account for the blatant rejection I would encounter for choosing to live a holy and righteous life. (Compare to John 10:16). Nowadays, I expect it and am used to it. But for a long time that was a hard pill for me to swallow and overcome.
The point is, the fear of man can truly lay a snare if you let it (Proverbs 29:25). But freedom from the fear of man is a blessing. (Compare to 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Peter 2:16; Romans 6:18).
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God's word is for the edification, exhortation, and consolation; for teaching, reproving, correcting, and training so that every Christian is equipped for the work of service, to build up the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 4:12).