We first encountered Nicodemus when Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover. Nicodemus came to have faith in Him, just not publically yet. He was sure the rulers were not going to give Jesus a fair hearing because they had already passed judgment and were willing to break the law to seize Him without trial! So he attempted to help Jesus while maintaining anonymity concerning his belief in Him! The Mosaic Law stipulated a person accused of a crime had a right to a fair hearing (Deuteronomy 1:16-17)! So Nicodemus, while protecting himself, speaks up, “Huh, hey guys, we still have the law that needed to be followed. We can’t judge Him before giving Him a fair trial!” You can almost hear the disdain and disgust in their voices and they rehash verse 41; “Are you also one of those inbred ignorant lawbreakers from Galilee? A prophet doesn’t come from that bunch of losers, Nicky!” It was a stinging rebuke. How convenient these learned men of distinction suddenly became ignorant of a Prophet from Galilee they knew well within the pages of their ancient scriptures (2 Kings 14:25)! Jonah was from Galilee, but why let the truth cloud an issue? Make no mistake these were skilled politicians who knew the cardinal rule of politics! “First know the facts, then distort them at your leisure!” They knew Nicodemus was right, but rather than make things right, they ridicule, malign, and disparage him in an attempt to marginalize and silence him! Church family, we have to be so careful these days to not slip into the same trap that ensnared these folks who denied the truth for the sake of keeping up appearances! We can get so embroiled by ego, pride, and self-righteousness that we find ourselves turning from what we know is right rather than admit we’re wrong and need to get right! Then we bind ourselves to prejudices and superficial evaluations and dig our heels in based on the way things appear to us, becoming resistant to hearing the truth! The leaders were too busy “Keeping up Appearances” in front of each other to be concerned with petty little things like Truth, Justice, and Righteousness! They proclaimed to follow God, but nothing about their behavior was Godly! Likewise, many today proclaim to follow Christ, but little in their behavior gives evidence they even know Him, much less follow Him! Jesus is an equal opportunity offender of both those who desire unbridled freedom to do anything they want and those who seek to subjugate everyone under law and sacrifice! There is freedom in Christ, but with freedom comes great responsibility to use it wisely! So what will you do when you encounter your next situation, similar to these religious leaders, where a Nicodemus in your life points out a truth you’ve ignored? How will you react? Will you repent and make it right with Jesus, or will you continue “Keeping Up Appearances” and miss an opportunity to grow in Christ?
Lesson4Life: Keeping up appearances can keep you from following Jesus!