3rd December 2023

Believing in Christ against the view of your crowd

Passage: John 3:1-15, 7:40-52, 19:38-42, Romans 10:9, 1 John 4:15
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

Have you ever wondered why the Gospel calls us to make a confession of Christ? And it's rather interesting in evangelism when you know that the message itself is asked for people to believe. But the way that Jesus talked to the crowds, he sometimes finished up with calling on them to make a response. And as is often quoted in evangelistic services, Jesus, every time he called someone to believe in him or to become a Christian, he called them publicly. Now, I've heard that said several times, but if you look through the Scriptures, it's actually quite true. In the Gospels, you find that when Jesus is dealing with people, he's often doing things to give them a chance to come out in the open. With their confession of faith, or with their request for his help. And so sometimes you think it's rather cruel, like the man who was in the synagogue and he had a withered hand or a withered arm. I don't know that a withered hand would be too bad, but a withered arm would be quite something that you'd sort of hide. And my picture of the man in the synagogue would be that he's over against the wall with a withered arm. Not so visible. But Jesus comes in, and Jesus sees him, and he calls him to stand up. And he makes everybody look at him. And it sounds cruel. Why is Jesus bringing this poor fellow out in the open when he's trying his hardest not to be so visible as a person with a withered hand? And then Jesus says, stretch it out. If you've ever had... Well, actually... Someone might have things wrong up here in the shoulder. I think I have a friend here somewhere. There he is. They have similar difficulties. And if someone were to point me out and say, put your hand up, I want to tell you it only goes up that high. And it would be, you know, a bit of an awkwardness if you said, come on, Jim, put it up more. It won't go up any higher. It's very annoying when you're playing sport. But something's happened to that shoulder, and you tend to hide it. And some of you didn't know I had a shoulder like that. See, I've been hiding, but now I'm not. But why did Jesus call a man out into the open? And how is it that the Bible talks about if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved? What's the big deal? Well, when we have services in our church and someone has volunteered to obey the scriptures about baptism, and baptism is pictured as a post-conversion confession, it's not as some churches practise what you do to little babies to, you know, make them Christians. It doesn't do anything to the baby at all. But the idea of baptism in the Bible is why we call it believer's baptism. And so baptism is a moment when people have come to Christ, and it's a confession as to where they are. Where faith has been placed. And so that's what it's about, confession. And if you shall confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. So here's this matching of what you believe in your heart with how you confess openly. And I'm asking the question, why is that confession part there? What does it do? What's the cause of there to be the need so to confess? The answer to that is actually one that goes deeply into the history of the human race and the fall of humanity away from God and goes into a description of human society as being something that's got lots of problems in it because of our belongingness to a group of people who are all co-equal sinners and the fact that we are all sinners. And the fact that we are all sinners. And the fact that there is an evil force behind what the Bible calls the world. By the way, the word world is one of the words in the scriptures that you've really got to understand and calibrate and define what world is it talking about. Because on one hand, the Bible teaches us that if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. And there the world being described that you shouldn't be loving is something evil. And elsewhere, the scriptures say, the scriptures speak about the fact that the devil is the one who's in charge of the world. And yet there are other verses using the same word. In the Greek, it's cosmos, usually. And this word is sometimes used to mean the whole box and works of our planet in the lot. In fact, the cosmopolitan idea is all over the world. Something's a fashion. So it's cosmopolitan. It's to do with the whole of the world. But it just means the whole of the geography. It's to do with the whole of all the different places. And then there's a famous verse. The most famous verse of the New Testament is John 3, 16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. And there the world is standing in for the world of humanity. All the people. So here we have this little word world. And the Bible teaches, actually, that humanity and in its fallen estate, and if you take the world of human affairs, that's where it's evil. And you find this proven in history just by looking and seeing how many centuries have there been gone through and how many of them have been spent in wars. And you'll find that the amount of years that actually have been where there's no war happening anywhere around the world, almost none. Very few. There probably are some. You could isolate where you couldn't say there was actually a war going on at the time. But wars are a common thing. If you've been to see that film Napoleon at the movies, I'm not going to advertise it as a good idea. It's full of people dying. And right at the end of it, it sort of has a list of all of how many deaths happened in each of Napoleon's wars. And it's tacked up that he's responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands. That's what wars were like. Actually, I can't help but thinking that people in the olden days were stupid. How they did warfare is that they'd have this crew over here with 20,000 people and this crew over here with 15,000. And they'd go at each other and about half the number on the field would end up dead. And the winners are the ones who survive. In fact, even Jesus speaking about needing to be careful about your commitments and being sure you've got the resources to carry them out. He said, what king is there who, as going up against another king and his armies and the other bloke's got so many thousands and this king realises he's only got half the number, what king would there be who wouldn't then sue for peace? Chase down to get an arrangement so they don't have to fight. And that's how the wars used to be in the olden days. The two would come and clash and the one that had survivors won. I can't think of anything more stupid. And yet in the 20th century, one of the worst examples of that, is World War I, with machine guns mowing each other down so the attrition was so terrible that they were emptying their countries of young men. They had to give special classes of them to get them talked into going and enlisting because they needed fresh bodies. Well, they needed to be alive when they went there, but they'd be carted out as bodies. I can't think of anything more stupid than what is warfare. That's what this world, this world is like. And this world where it's an evil world is contrary to God. And the whole notion of needing to confess God has to do with which side are you on. And you can't stay on the side of the world. You can't stay on the side of fallen humanity with all of its drives and its turnings away from God with the storylines of people, like Sodom and Gomorrah and all the things that they did. No wonder God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of the simple evil that they'd turned themselves to. This world is rotten through and through. If you haven't realised that, I don't know whether you've been awake. This world is rotten through and through. And even amongst those parts where humanity has the best drawn out of it, even still, there's things that indicate that there's something wrong in human nature. I believe that human nature is a beautiful thing, but I also believe that it's fallen. And you'll never get a full understanding of the world of humanity if you don't accept the fact there's something basically drastically wrong with the grouping of human beings that put pressure on others to act like them that we call the world. Now why there's a confession is because the one who stands above the world, the one who is the alternate to the devil, the one who has a kingdom that's called the kingdom of God, that one is different from the world. And you have to take a stance somewhere along the line to be with him and not with the world. Love not the world, for if you love the world you can't love God. The love of God's not in you. 1 John, that little letter, keeps saying this. And so it is the fact that there is a need for confession of Christ because he is one who is not of the world. He's the one who's real. He's the one who has come to save us and provide himself as a saviour. And to become a Christian can't really happen unless there's a moment that you confess that you belong to Christ and you're his. And that's why there's this role of confession to become a Christian. It's a confession. It's a confession of Jesus that you're on his side. And the kingdom of heaven is entered by people coming to a place of confession. There's many stories of Christianity as it began down in the first centuries of how there were soldiers in the Roman army who were taught that they had to confess Caesar was their Lord. But yet there were some who became Christians and had to learn how to say Jesus is my Lord. And sometimes they were put to the test whether they keep saying Caesar is the Lord or not. And some of them, would actually have to die rather than admit that they can no longer say that Caesar is the Lord. It's an amazing thing what happens to people who are put on the spot like that. The confession of Christ has been central to being a Christian. And all of our life is one where we're called, if we've come to believe in him. Sometimes it takes some of us a bit of time before we come out in the open. Now I had a friend at school for whom that was a big deal. It was the case and he'd come from Hong Kong. And he became one of my best friends at school in the final years. And this particular fellow came from a home that was probably very much involved in the underworld. And he had a father who had many, many illegitimate sons. And he used to have a lot of money. The father used to give them money and send them overseas to get them out of sight and out of the way. And he was one, my friend, who was sent to Australia to get his education and given a lot of money. And he was given a lot of money. And he was given a lot of money. And he was given a lot of money. And he was given a lot of money. And he was given a lot of money. And he was given a lot of money that he'd have regularly. And so he rented or he lived with a family who turned out to be Christians. And they led him to believe in Christ. So when he came along to the school, he was at the school. But at that time, although he believed in Christ and he used to go to church with the family, he hadn't actually ever come out in the open. And he was a person who was careful trying to define himself as acceptable to the world as he found it at school. And there were some people in the school who tried to rule the roost as far as peer pressure was concerned. But he'd been trained in Hong Kong to be a fighter. And he'd been trained how to harden his wrists. And what he did one day, the gymnasium door, which was very thick like this, with the other boys watching, he punched a hole straight through it. None of us could have ever done that. We'd have smashed our wrists. But he'd hardened his wrists so he could do it. And the rest of us were in awe. And that way, he would buy for himself. He bought for himself a little bit of protection that he was a tough guy. He wouldn't have anything to do with him. You'd better be careful. And there he is amongst all the peers. And he adopted as his group of people that he related to the young men of our school, I being one of them. But in that school, there were kids who set themselves up to be the authorities or the ones who were, you know how you watch on TV about the, uh, the cool girls or the nice girls are they called? No, they're not called nice. Yeah, those ones. Well, our school had boys. It was a boys' school and there was a group like that for them. And one day, well, they used to try and pick on me because I was a Christian and try and get me to stop acting Christianly if they could. And all sorts of little tricks they played to get me to do something out of sync with my being a Christian. And I can remember one of them's name, I won't go into that. Anyway, cutting a long story short, down at the lockers one day after the school was over, I'm getting my books ready to go home and this fellow, the leader of the group that would like to pick on me, came down and stood close to me, next to me. And I'm thinking to myself, what is he going to try while nobody's watching? And, uh, but he wanted to actually talk and he says, Jim, he says, I don't understand you. He says, there are two fellas in this school who are the lowest of the low. They're the right at the bottom. One of them is the chaplain's son and he can't help at the poor thing. He keeps trying to swear and do all sorts of things to show he's tough but he's the chaplain's son and we, I think they gave him plenty of bad treatment or teased or whatever. And then he said to me, you're worse than him but you seem to have chosen it. I don't understand why. Why don't I act up so I can be a bit, you know, more accepted? And he just left it and walked off. We know that little Chinese guy, he had never confessed Christ though his family he was staying with, he lived with, had led him to Christ. He really was converted but he hadn't come out in the open. Now the chaplain, the father of the open, the other guy who was the slackest of the slack or the lowest of the low, the chaplain had got himself built by the school this brand new chapel. When you came out of class and you had to stand around for the first half of lunch hour underneath, on the verandas, the school buildings were all around and right at the end of where the building stopped was this beautiful building the chapel built with the sun shining on its steps with beautiful steps that went up and the chaplain had really done well to talk the authorities into such a lovely building but he announced there to be a communion service at one o'clock in the middle of lunchtime and I knew there was going to be no one going to that chapel to that communion service because at the time of one o'clock the bell would go and you could go down the oval or do anything and all the school would be watching and if you went up to go to that communion you had to walk out and up those steps with the sunlight on you and go to the chapel and I knew that I was going to be the only one. But this little Chinese guy he was also somewhere I didn't notice where he was but underneath on the verandas he saw me come walking out and something moved in him the same thing I think the spirit does to everybody who's been getting close to belonging to Christ is a call not a call not only to believe in him but to confess him and he found a way that day because as I walked towards those steps and there were a lot of them to walk up and I was sort of dreading being in the open but I made myself do it he came walking out and he walked alongside me up those steps and we went to the communion and the prayer time the chaplain had arranged and that was how he confessed Christ and that was how he was actually doing was the crowd that he'd won himself a spot by punching a hole in the gymnasium door being known he was very athletic and he could get people by the arms and go flip, flip, flip and he was an expert on all the things that people do when they're trained in that sort of thing and his father had given him the training arranged for his training in case the hoodlums of Hong Kong would get at the father by capturing him he had to know how to fight his way out of tough spots well anyway he came and confessed that he was a Christian that day with his steps and he became my best friend and he went on for Jesus there is a place for confession and part of the rationale for that and I've preached on this topic previously but all of us have a crowd all of us have a crowd of people that we define and try and fit in with it's natural human nature so to do but because the world is in the hands of the devil because the society we live in especially as it gets worse and worse defines what it is to be normal and acceptable in some ways that are quite anti-Christian and calls on you to bend your knee that's where the need comes if you were to be a real Christian that you need to tell everybody there's someone greater than you I don't bend to this crowd I believe in Jesus and confession is how you do it my friend Peter his English may be given himself that's what he did that day he came out in the open for Christ have you done that? Are you someone who's turned your belief into a confession? that's why the Bible talks about confession he says he confesses with his mouth as well as believing in his heart that's the one that gets in the door with God well anyway in our storyline that was read to us by Gavin from John chapter 3 is that very famous storyline about Nicodemus and one of the things in that we'll put it up on the screen the storyline of John chapter 3 and we're reading here it says there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus and when it says of the Pharisees what it's doing is telling you his crowd and my message which I've tried to give before and didn't really get it out properly but this message is that every one of us has a crowd and you can't be a Christian unless you're prepared to stand different from the crowd sometimes they won't object when you become a Christian and sometimes they'll give you heaps but you have to confess that you belong to Jesus and this one this man we're told he's a man of the Pharisees and they were legalistic self-serving very critical people they were the Jewish leaders who hated Jesus and this man Nicodemus had seen things in Jesus that he secretly admired but he's a man of the Pharisees and we're going to read a trace his coming to a place of confession through the storyline as it's found in the Gospel of John and he's a ruler of the Jews and so he has a lot of training and he has a prestigious position of being a man of authority he's got a lot to lose well this man came to Jesus by night and why do you suppose he came at night because he's curious about Jesus because the part of him is drawn to Jesus but he doesn't want to get caught out by his crowd and get into trouble with them so he comes to Jesus by night Rabbi we know that you're a teacher come from God you see he actually can see in what Jesus is doing last time I told you about this film which is on you can watch it on YouTube I think or on one of the other places on your TV but it's what's it called the name of the one where it's about it's faction so it's got all the facts from the Gospels but where the Gospel doesn't tell you all the detail it makes up a bit of a storyline to make it fit so it's fiction and facts together and it's called what's the name of this Chosen thank you yeah well in the storyline in Chosen the coming of Mary Magdalene to get released by from demons by Jesus occurs right in the middle of this little episode of Nicodemus being up there in that area trying to give a lead as a Pharisee who's a leader and he can't help poor old Mary Magdalene she has demons and he does his best and is a failure but she runs into Jesus and Jesus delivers her from the demons and Nicodemus sees the difference in Mary Magdalene and there's a witness to him that's what happens in Christian circles when someone comes to Christ and they change and become a Christian they have a lot of friends who see something different in them and it's a very powerful thing when someone comes to the Lord and the others of their peer group notice the difference well Nicodemus saw the difference in Mary Magdalene I believe that which the Chosen film series of guests probably happened I think it's right and I think that it was a very strong witness that Mary Magdalene's deliverance from the demons by Jesus spoke to the man who couldn't deliver her and he was the one who was the leader of the Jews but he was powerless against the demons and so he saw something Jesus did and he says we know you're a teacher come from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him and you can see that mentally he's already getting persuaded but the persuasion is going completely against the conclusion of the Pharisees and he's going to discover poor Nicodemus that for him to finally get in the door with God through Christ he's going to have to stand against his crowd hence the need to eventually come out in the open but he's not ready for it yet well Jesus entertains him he comes at night time and Rabbi we know you're a teacher you come from God etc. and verse 3 Jesus answered him truly truly I say to you unless you're born again you cannot see the kingdom of God you don't even get in you can't even see it it's something beyond your grasp until you're born again and this is the experience of a person actually having the spirit change you when you change from being a child of darkness to being a child of light when you change from being a person of the world to a person who's bowed to the kingdom of God when you change your allegiance to make Jesus your Lord and one of the reasons of confession of him is because it's such a total thing there is no other person in all of history or in all of the universe who is the one person that you can bow to and say he is Lord I don't believe in bowing to anybody as Lord except for Jesus but if you bow to Jesus you confess him as your Lord that was the cry that the first Christians wanted to hear from new converts Jesus is Lord is actually what they used to say they used to get them to say it in the river when they're getting baptised they'd be there in the water and the confession they made was Jesus is my Lord and they baptised them if you shall confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you shall be saved this confession is so important because of who is Jesus that he is the Supreme Lord there is no other person there is no other crowd there is no other person that can come near to having the authority of Jesus he's the one that stands out from every crowd even the crowd of the church Jesus is Lord and he alone is the one to whom we bow Jesus is Lord and Jesus says you can't be born again you have to be born again until you if you want to see the kingdom of God is what he's saying now Nicodemus I don't know whether he's hiding by bringing out a hopeless example that no one would think Jesus meant how can a man be born when he's old can he enter a second time into his mother's womb just the picture of that is gross and the picture of that shows the impossibility that's not what Jesus meant Jesus is speaking about the world of the spirit and how it's different from the world of humanity and how it works and so he goes on if we continue looking at the next chapter the next slide in these verses truly truly I say to you unless one is born of the water and of spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God now being born of water has been interpreted by some as getting baptised I don't actually think that's what Jesus meant although it would apply fairly well you've got to be have a spiritual rebirth and then you've got to confess it in water that suits us Baptists but I don't actually think that's what Jesus meant I think the born of water is how people understood the breaking of the waters of the woman when the birth happens it's a physical happening and it happens in the most physical moment of a person's arrival in the world and that's being born of water and it's the fleshly human birth there illustrated but the birth of the spirit of which Jesus spoke when he said you've got to be born again is a birth that happens from spiritual sources not human sources it isn't a a father and a mother and they've brought together the seed and the woman's in womb and she's come up with a child and that's what caused you to be born of flesh that's what caused you to be born of water but it's a spiritual birth that is because the spirit has come and caused that new birth to occur in you the wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from or where it's going to so as it is with everyone who is born of the spirit Jesus speaking to Nicodemus there is an event of the spirit that opens your eyes spiritually that helps you understand until that occurs you can't even see the kingdom of God if you ever wondered about people who don't know Christ and they come along to church and they'll notice all sorts of sociological things they'll have their comments to make I used to bring my friends from school to church and then hear the next day at school what they thought of what they saw it's always very fascinating what they saw what people do see when they come to a church when they don't know anything about church life and they certainly don't know what it is to become a Christian but they see all the human things but what they can't see is the spiritual movements that go on but those spiritual movements is how you get born again it's the power of spirit coming to you and what's happening to Nicodemus already by him seeing the life of Mary Magdalene changed by him being willing to say to Jesus no one could do these things you're doing if God were not with him he's already being influenced but he's still hiding from his crowd that's why he came at night time I believe so Jesus says to him you've got to be born again to get in the door Nicodemus continues in not understanding and in the next slide we read Nicodemus said to him how can these things be and Jesus answered him are you the teacher of Israel and you don't understand these things you're meant to be the person telling the others but you don't even understand them yourself and truly truly I say to you we speak of what we know and we bear witness to what we've seen but you do not receive our testimony talking about him and John the Baptist and others if I have told you earthly things and you don't believe me how could you believe if I were to tell you of heavenly things then he goes on to speak about himself no one has ascended into heaven except the one who came down from heaven the son of man that's Jesus and he says I'm not going to tell you I'm not going to tell you I'm not going to tell you I'm not going to tell you I'm not going to tell you and then he goes on to say something which must have been very mysterious to poor old Nicodemus but at least Nicodemus had some understanding of the Bible passage the Old Testament passage from which this narrative came he's going to talk about Moses and an occasion going through the wilderness where God punished them with a whole plague of snakes and many of them were dying in the camp and Moses pleaded with God and God says go and take a pole and you know melt down some bronze and make it make a bronze snake and put it in the pole but it takes some time to do all of that and then stick it where that can be seen in the camp and go and say to the Israelites if you look up and see the bronze snake and believe you'll be healed of the serpent bite and it's all rather a beautiful illustration provided for how Jesus understood his future was to go to the cross and there on the cross he was going to take the spiritual snake bite if you like he was going to take the sin of the world and he was going to be lifted up and just as the serpent got lifted up in the wilderness by Moses for the people to look at and those who looked and believed got healed so when Jesus dies on the cross and takes our sin and the gospel message so proclaims or the people of Jesus they saw they saw him die and then Peter came along and said he's died for your sins and the first apostles proclaimed that initial gospel that is by Jesus dying for us that we can be forgiven and so Jesus says to Nicodemus just as Moses lifted up that bronze snake and the ones that looked and believed they lived so when Jesus is lifted up and this is yet to be happening when he dies on the cross then Nicodemus would understand that there was something about his death that was efficient and able to make a person forgiven as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the son of man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life you get born again with the life of God when you look at the cross and understand that Jesus died in your place that's why it's so important you know when you are involved in Christian outreach you find there's lots of groups of people who don't actually want you to give the message that you usually give about Jesus dying on the cross they want to say other things they want to say things more acceptable to this world they want you to paint Christianity as more about you having the helpful hands to help the people in need something you should do anyway but it's not the centre of the gospel the centre of the gospel is how Jesus came and died on the cross and rose again and has gone back to heaven and he has sufficiently dealt with our sins that if we believe in him we will be born again that whosoever believes in him may have eternal life well that's the message and it's delivered to Nicodemus through Jesus talking about Moses and the snake it's rather difficult when you're reading the gospel of John to know where that conversation is finished being detailed and it's now John the evangelist carrying on the message for us the readers that is how he finishes it there now this is the beginning of Nicodemus being confronted with the message of Christ he didn't get in the door on that original occasion but he certainly got faced with the fact that he couldn't go having his own his allegiance to his crowd he was he'd come by night time no one probably seen him but sooner or later he's going to have to take a stand and that the same is true whether you're like my little friend who's only short but he was very strong coming from Hong Kong and becoming a Christian in the home he stays but then at school keeping up the bit of the front that he's a famous fiver sort of person but he had to come a moment but he had to come out the open as a Christian and Nicodemus is getting a bit of pressure on him there's actually three spots in the Gospel of John where the story of Nicodemus is told and we'll go to the second of those which is in chapter 7 I do believe verses 40 to 52 and here we have something that's going on in the conversations between the Pharisees and the Sadducees the people who are the leaders of the Jews and the Lord Jesus and they're going to and the reaction to the crowds and of course there was divided opinion the crowds didn't always know what to think as to who Jesus was and when they hear him preaching and teaching he spoke with such authority that they had to understand him somehow and some say this really is the prophet they have been promised a special prophet who'd have the words of God others said this is the Christ which is one step up from being just a prophet but some said is Christ to come from God from Galilee now what I notice here is that the crowds there are fairly ignorant about their own scriptures they say this is the Christ but some said does the Christ come from Galilee meaning they don't think he does has not the scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David which it does but that didn't mean that he couldn't go at one stage to Galilee which he had and comes from Bethlehem which is where he was born that's true enough the village where David was but because they didn't know the entirety of all the prophecies they were unaware of one there's one in Isaiah I think it's Isaiah 9 if you can turn there please to Isaiah 9 did I get the right one yeah here we are verse 1 but there will be no gloom for her who is in anguish probably talking about Mary I don't know in the former time he brought into contempt the land of Israel and Zebulun and the land of Naphtali but in the later time he has made glorious the way by the sea and the land beyond Jordan Galilee of the nations he's talking about a certain part near where Jesus was in Galilee but there was a part which was called Galilee of the nations largely filled up with people who were not Jews but Jesus went there and did all of the miracles Galilee of the nations Galilee of the nations Galilee of the nations and so it's not the case that there were no mentions of the Messiah coming from Galilee but the people who found that as an excuse well he's from Galilee he can't be the Messiah simply was that they didn't know the scriptures and there is a place for us to have a ministry of showing how Jesus coming actually fulfilled a whole lot of prophecies you can make a lot of mileage in explaining to people what the Bible actually says and showing how that it's claimed that the names of Jesus are vindicated in the terms of his background we sometimes call that apologetics I've got it in my mind to start a class on apologetics whereby we train ourselves as to how to answer people who think they can block the idea of Jesus being the Christ but then we can say ah you don't know this and you show them the answers sometimes have to do with with things in the scriptures the Old Testament and sometimes has to do with with things in the scriptures the Old Testament and sometimes has to do with with things in the scriptures the Old Testament and sometimes has to do with other rationales that fit in with the fact that Jesus really did come and you call that apologetics it's something that goes along with evangelism it's not the only thing you do in evangelism but it's something that's very helpful and here you have an example of people who just don't know enough of the Old Testament scriptures and they've got it wrong and alright so there is a place and if you're interested about learning about apologetics talk to me and we'll see whether we can't get something going and we'll see whether we can't get something going now what happens though is that we want to turn to chapter 7 and verses 40 to 52 and and in this place is a part of where some of them were saying can he come from Galilee and when people heard this they'd said this really is the prophet others said he's the Christ but some said he's the Christ to come from Galilee etc etc so there was division verse 43 among the people over him some of them wanted to arrest him but no one laid hands on him now some of the officers that had come from the chief priests under the orders to arrest Jesus and to bring him they found they couldn't do it they went along to the back of the crowds but they got spellbound listening to Jesus and they went back without arresting him and the people who'd sent them to capture Jesus and bring him so they could do whatever they wanted to him they said how come you didn't bring him to Galilee how come you didn't bring him to Galilee how come you didn't bring him to Galilee and he answered and said there's no one that speaks like this man and so there was this inability the Pharisees had at actually getting a hold of him and so there's a bit of discussion but in that discussion amongst those Pharisees is our friend Nicodemus and Nicodemus takes a little stand against his crowd and in that little stand he says and I'm not sure whether I've got the right quote there but I'll tell you what he says he says is it what we do is to investigate someone without hearing what he says or do we go and make a judgement without investigating him and they turn on him and eventually they say to him are you from Galilee too and they turn on Nicodemus but he has to take a bit of a stand and there it is he's saying to them do we you know fail to give a person a hearing and learn what he does and they reply are you from Galilee too search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee the truth is they are in the scriptures and we looked at chapter 9 which is one spot well that was Nicodemus and he was in just a small way beginning to have to turn against his crowd the ones that he would take cover in the ones that he would the ones that were who gave him recognition he was a famous teacher they pat him on the back for the things he was doing and now they're going to get ready to tell him they're laughing at him are you from Galilee too they say well the story line there's only three big passages in the gospel of John but the third one to turn to is in chapter 19 and verses 38 sorry verses 58 to 42 so John 19 and this is now the events have gone around to Jesus dying on the cross and Jesus is dead and there have been some people who have been secret disciples verse 38 after those things Joseph of Arimathea and he's a rich person he has his own tomb generally in those days if you were poor then your body was thrown somewhere not too polite you know where it rotted away or was a mass burial place but this fellow had become a disciple of Jesus but secretly for fear of the Jews and you can see that those Jewish leaders they held a pretty tight ship of jumping on people who stopped following their ideas and this man was afraid of the Jews and he didn't want to get picked on so he stayed a secret disciple and often with people who first get wooed to come to Christ who hear of him and find that it's answering a lot of things in their hearts they begin to know that maybe it's true that Jesus is the Messiah they begin to realise that he has come from God as he claims but they don't say anything for fear of their crown I wonder if there's anybody here who is afraid of your crown somewhere where you work or your family or your schoolmates or your friends or some other group who command your following the line well in Nicodemus' case he's beginning to speak up against the crowd so Joseph of Arimathea we don't know as much about him but he's been someone who says that he was afraid of the Jews he got called on by his conscience he'd watched Jesus die and somehow it struck him that Jesus had talked about the fact he'd come to die that Jesus was true he was real and that something should be done about his body that's now dead so he goes to Pilate now you understand Pilate if he thought he had on his hands a person very enthusiastic against the Romans he'd just have you killed or if he told the Jews they'd chase you down and see that you disappeared in the night he came to Pilate and he did a very very dangerous and very dangerous thing an interesting thing and the lesson we learn from this is pretty simple that if you're a secret disciple let me tell you that the discipleship will kill the secrecy or else the secrecy will kill the discipleship and in his case his believing in Jesus and had watched him die and I think that he remembered some of the words of Jesus and saw even deeper into the purpose of the Lord to come he came to die and he went to Pilate and he said I'm going to kill you and I'm going to kill you and I'm going to kill you and I'm going to kill you and I'm going to kill you and he might take away the body of Jesus and Nicodemus went with him apparently so he came and he took away his body Nicodemus also who earlier had come to Jesus by night came and Jesus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes special anointing materials about 75 pounds in weight he brought a lot he's probably quite a rich character Nicodemus and they took the body of Jesus bound it in then linen cloths with spices as was the case with Jesus as was the burial custom of the Jews so here you have Nicodemus turning up at the end and what is he doing before Pilate of all people is he's turned against his own crowd to believe in Jesus he's actually made a public confession lived out my little Chinese friend he did it by going up to communion and the prayer meeting that the chaplain called at the middle of lunch time sometimes we have to do something drastic I remember first going to that going to teachers college and the Billy Graham crusade had one going at the time so I got a sticker and I stuck it on my bag I wasn't very socially able to think of a cleverer way to raise the flag for being a Christian but I just stuck it on the bag carried it in and everybody saw it it was a bit corny but nonetheless I succeeded in them knowing I was a Christian and I ended up having all sorts of conversations with different people in my group simply because I'd done that they were curious as to why I would say so there's one very famous actor now actress who was a very extroverted loud mouth person whose voice was big and strong and commanded attention to everybody listening and she would then pick on me Jim why do you think this and but just that simple act of raising the flag was my way of confessing Christ in the new place where I'd gone the Teachers College and something happens you introduce spiritual forces when you raise the flag for Christ you introduce the powers of the Holy Spirit and all sorts of things go on and I had people that I sat next to who want to talk about it with me there were a couple in my own very group that I was able to talk to and get them encouraged to come out in the open and confess that they were Christians so because of the Jewish day of preparation since the tomb was close at hand they laid Jesus there I'm sure that they with everybody watching carting in the dead body of Jesus and putting him in a tomb and the Romans being sent to make it secure none of that went unheralded by the whole of Jerusalem they all hear the news about Jesus and his body and the two people who put him in that special tomb confession is the only way to confess is the only way to confess is the eventual result when you realise the only crowd you need to pay attention to is Jesus and God the Father and the multitude of the angels and you confess that you belong to him and on that confession all the powers of the Christian life begin to happen in your life too I want to ask you with our evening services we are pretty small in number and I want to ask you and mostly you are people who are very helpful to the preacher and you let me talk and you believe most of you believe and do but if there's one of you and you've never really come out in the open for Christ but tonight you want to confess your crown you only need Jesus he's the crown the angels come to in your crown God the Father and other Christians like fellow Nicodemus and with Joseph of Arimathea I bet they become the best of friends forever actually they do they're probably in glory now and Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are arm and arm forever in heaven because they chose a moment to stand up for Christ if you've never confessed Christ now if you have I'm not asking you to do it again but if you want to do it again this is not an opportunity this is just one to simply come and as the ones lead our final piece of music come and stand and they will come and sit in the front row have a prayer to Jesus go back to your seats we'll all know what you've done you're just flying a flag because you feel the Lord wants you so to do and it's because we can't ever get away from the fact we have to make a decision for Jesus contrary to the fact that we have to make a decision for Jesus contrary to all the various you know groups groupings of people there are in earth Jesus is the only one that really counts and actually you know when you really want to have Jesus in your life you somehow don't care about the rest I can remember as a boy being so scared of simply going down the front of a meeting and when I went all of that disappears the only one that really counts is Jesus and when you come and say Jesus is my Lord because actually what we do with baptism is the biblical way of confessing Christ and what a person does sometimes the request to be baptized is to do exactly what I'm talking about tonight it's the biblical way to confess that you belong to Jesus and you get quizzed in the water or you give your testimony but you simply make a public confession that you belong to Jesus and that's what the call is for that so if you want to simply do it by coming down and bowing and praying tell the Lord in a moment of prayer go back to your seat you're welcome so to do tonight we won't make any big deal of it if you want to talk more to me later you're welcome to but you don't have to and let that occur in the final piece of music that the girls will lead us in in just a moment's time first let me pray Heavenly Father we thank you for Nicodemus I'm really looking forward to in glory I want to look up and see whether he's not arm in arm with Joseph of Arimathea oh what a history they have Lord when I get to glory I want to find Peter I've lost track of him that little Chinese guy as we walked up the steps of the chapel together and told the whole school we belong to Jesus and I want to see how Peter's getting on has gotten on oh Father we pray Lord for all of us there will be those who learn the secret of not listening to any crowd other than Jesus we pray this in his name Amen.

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