Do you ever get stumped by those who mock you by questioning your faith in Jesus? Most questions are meant by mockers to throw us off base, to get us to see how foolish we are, or to sway us into thinking there is no God. Some even quote Scripture, out of context of course, to debate us. Some debate for pure fun with wanting to win at all costs. Some debate because they are arrogant. The gospel needs no debate or defense. The gospel is about a loving relationship. Keep it simple. Truth wins.
When asked about Jesus, we begin with who we know and believe. When pressed further, we tell them why we believe as best we can for it is hard at times to explain the faith we have in our unseen Savior, the Messiah of the world to those who do not believe and have no desire to believe. It isn’t easy to articulate the power we feel daily because we believe. But what is easier, if you are not a preacher or teacher, is to live what we do know. When we live a grateful life because we believe, no matter what is happening around us, the world takes notice. When we live our daily lives fully for Jesus, asking what He wants, following His teaching, reveling in His love, mercy and grace, people see what we have and know that we are different. Our response and reaction to challenging circumstances will always reveal what we believe to an unbelieving world.
Jesus is hard-pressed by the Pharisees who love a good debate for this is their way of life…to debate it, talk about it but rarely live it. At this point He is surrounded by these highly religious who have little to no relationship with God, no knowledge of who God is and have lost all desire to know what God wants. They dress in regal robes and use God’s Law and Words to merely debate and gain more power by oppressing God’s chosen people. What a gig!
Jesus draws them out to a new debate by asking them a question that will clearly reveal what they believe. He stumps them to the point that they cannot answer. Humbled by their inability to answer, they turn back their attention to getting rid of this teacher who they refuse to understand. Isn’t that what humans still do? If we can’t get people to come over to our way of thinking, fear leads to anger, so we attack or ignore them. The Pharisees leave the debate that cannot win to further their plotting and planning to devise a way to kill the Son of God all because they do not want to lose their own limited, earthly power. They do not know God. So, they refuse to recognize Jesus as His Son.
BUT WHAT ABOUT NICODEMUS?
I am reminded of Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, who fearfully met Jesus in the evening hours so know one would see him talking to Him. Jesus saw faith the size of a mustard seed in Nicodemus so gave him what he was seeking. When Jesus answered his questioning about religion with how to have a true relationship God forever, Nicodemus listened intently. Here is that famous, secret conversation between the Messiah and Nicodemus;
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:2-18, NIV
Nicodemus knew in his heart that Jesus had come from God. He came closer to God than all other Pharisees at this point. So, Jesus gave him what he needed most—Truth.
So, I wonder. Is Nicodemus one of Pharisees who surround Jesus with more questions about His authority and status with God? Probably. How far has Nicodemus come in his faith as His mocking peers drill the Messiah as He responds with Truth?
Matthew—God’s Word Fulfilled
Matthew 22:41-46, NLT
Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
They replied, “He is the son of David.”
43 Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said,
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’
45 Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?”
46 No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
WHO IS THE MESSIAH?
Jesus asks a question they cannot answer. He asks the question of us now. “What do you think about Messiah?” The Pharisees, with hardened hearts, had knowledge of The Law, word by word, but did not know God. They knew the Messiah would come from the line of David, “for it is written” by the prophets. But they knew not God. Somewhere, in the generational passing of the Word, knowing God in relationship to God was lost.
Jesus attempted to take what the Pharisees had read and knew of the Word to a place of knowing Him. This is true belief…that we may know Him, grow in an intimate, loving relationship with Him and follow Him all the days of our lives.
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John 1:14, Msg
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:7, NIV To “know” is to believe in God in relationship to God through Jesus, His Son.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” Acts 16:31, NLT
Lord, God in Heaven,
I believe. Give me words that tell your story accurately. Show me your ways. Speak to my heart for your servant is listening, expectantly, ready to obey. Be my strength, peace, and joy for you have saved me from myself. You are Messiah.
In Jesus Name, Amen