When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived?48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” John 7:40-52
I’m watching the first 2016 Presidential Debate. It is excruciatingly difficult and stressful for me. Each of the candidates are lobbing charges and countercharges back and forth at each other. I have my own biases and beliefs about the various political issues before us. But I digress…
Jesus was not in a political debate. He was not running for office. But people were divided in their opinions about him. Some said he was a prophet. Others wondered if he really was the Christ. Still others wanted to arrest Jesus. Opinions were divided. And – much like the fervor around the presidential candidates – people were greatly divided about Jesus…with passionate convictions all around.
Into all this row comes a man who first shows up in the third chapter of John’s Gospel. Nicodemus pleads Jesus’ case in an apparently dispassionate manner. Is it right to judge a man before giving him a hearing? Sadly he is quickly dismissed by the Pharisees – keepers of theological orthodoxy in their day. Nothing good can come from Galilee, they assure the people, and Nicodemus’ call for a fair and balanced investigation of the facts goes unheeded.
Sadly there are still those who would silence and dismiss Jesus. There are those who have no use for his teaching or the values he stands for. We need a Nicodemus today who will say let’s give Jesus a fair hearing. Let’s let his word speak to our hearts. Let’s not assume that everyone has it right about Jesus. He is the Prophet, but so much more. He is the Christ, the Son of God. He is the Savior of the world. He speaks grace and truth. Thanks, Nicodemus, for speaking up for him. Is there a Nicodemus in the house?