By Joel A. Hess –
Isn’t it funny that Nicodemus, with all his accolades, risked his reputation and snuck out to see Jesus? Sure, we can’t read too much into it. We don’t know exactly what the high ranking Pharisee was thinking, but what drove him to Jesus in the middle of the night?
He had everything. He likely enjoyed great wealth. His community looked up to him. He led them with eloquent interpretations of interpreters. He judged their rightness with God using an admirable knowledge of Scripture and history. He was a full blown son of Abraham, circumcised on the eighth day. He likely followed the law wonderfully, on paper at least. If anyone were going to sit at the table of Abraham in the resurrection, it would be him.
Still, he felt the need to see Jesus. With all his accomplishments, did Nicodemus feel like he was still missing something? In the night time, when all our securities are stripped from us and we are forced to stare at our mortality in the mirror, did Nicodemus see a fraud?
I feel like that sometimes. I have studied Scripture. People look to me for answers. I lead people in the Word. I try to watch my Ps and Qs. But sometimes, especially at night, I feel like a fraud. My wife has probably even said that from time to time.
My conscience and God’s Word draws out my inner being. I am not what I appear to be. You don’t want to know what’s in my heart sometimes. It would frighten you. I may look like I have it all together on the outside, but by myself, I am severely lacking. As Thom Yorke sings, “I am a creep.”
I feel like a fraud.
In the night, when I am afraid, when all my horrors face me, I need to sneak to Jesus, too. He is no fraud. He has no inner conflict or tug toward darkness. His yes is yes. His no is no. There are no skeletons in his closet. In the desert, He was tested. In the garden at night, Jesus faced a fork in the road. Though He prayed that His father would take the cup away, He submitted to His father’s will because He loves Him and all of us frauds, even Nicodemus.
And in the day, Jesus stretched out his lungs and cried, “It is finished” for all of us creatures of the night.
He took my fraud, my shame, my guilt. He has freely given me His reputation, His clean heart, His righteousness. God does not see me as a fraud. He sees His Son.
The devil can call me a fraud all he wants. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Christ is not a fraud. That’s what I learn every Lent and Easter as I discipline myself and strain to focus, only to discover every weakness. It doesn’t matter about me. That’s what I will learn with all the saints on that great day when we will say with Isaiah,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”