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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


December 2019

John 9:1-12: A walking display case.

John 9:1-12: A walking display case.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.“I don’t know,” he said.” NIV

The purpose of a believer’s life is to be a ‘display cabinet’ for the work of God (3; cf. Matthew 5:14-16, 1 Peter 2:12, Psalm 18:28a).The work of God is transformative (8,9). Under the touch of Jesus Christ, some people change so much that they are barely recognisable as the same person. This is to His glory.

Like Jesus, we only have a brief life span in which to illuminate the world with heavenly light; to reflect the glory of Jesus – like the moon lit up with the rays of the sun (4, 5). We don’t have equal amounts of ‘sand’ in the egg timers of our lives, but this sand is running through. It is right to want to make your days and hours and minutes count. ”Only one life. ‘Twill soon be passed. And only what’s done for Jesus will last.”

Jesus’ work is creative. There is no evidence of a canned or pre-packaged approach with Him (6, 7 and 11). Jesus healed many people of a variety of conditions, but He didn’t have one way only of working. He did what He saw the Father doing. He kept in step with Him. That resulted in an enormous creativity of approach. Be prepared! Jesus may work in ways that take you totally by surprise.

It’s interesting that Jesus told the blind man to go and wash in the ”Pool of Siloam” (7) – a word which means ”Sent”. One of the themes in John’s gospel concerns the fact that Jesus was sent into the world by the Father, and the cure for spiritual blindness lies in His God-given mission.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you want to make my life a display case for your glory. May it be.

John 8:48-59: An Audience of one.

John 8:48-59: An Audience of one.

“48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

This story contains one of the most remarkable statements Jesus ever made (58). He took to Himself the most sacred name of God: ”I am”. His opponents knew exactly what He was claiming (59) and wanted to mete out the punishment appropriate to a blasphemer. I read a book once which spoke about the ”ego-centricity” of Christ’s claims. He spoke often about Himself, and called people to Himself – said they could find their true satisfaction in Him; that their eternal destiny depended on their response to Him. Yet it is obvious that He was a humble Man. How do these two things fit together? The truth is that if Jesus is God there is no problem at all in Him speaking this way. It would be quite natural.

In this passage we again see how Jesus conducted Himself in a hostile world, and He models qualities and characteristics that should be true of us.

At its core, Jesus’ life was about honouring the Father (49b, 50 and 54). We each need to settle this issue of glory. For who’s glory are we living? Some time ago, I heard a commentary on an Olympic race. I think it came from London 2012. As the athlete crossed the line for gold a huge cheer went up. It really was loud and wildly enthusiastic. But I noticed that after a moment or two it subsided. I thought, ”It’s like that in life isn’t it? Whatever praise/honour may come your way, it doesn’t last very long. And what people think about you isn’t really important. The only verdict on your life that counts is God’s. He’s your ”judge” (50). Human applause lasts for but a moment, but God’s judgment is eternal.” Ultimately, it is wisest to live for ”an audience of one.”

Sometimes, living to honour God will mean contradicting (48/49a) what a lying world says (55). You will find that you are on a collision course with it. (This is not always the case of course. There will be times when you let it be said and just submit your case to God. You don’t attempt to refute it at all.There is ”a time to be silent and a time to speak” Ecclesiastes 3:7b. We each must seek to be led by the Spirit in our responses.)

Honouring God, though, will always involve ‘keeping’ His Word (51, 52 and 55); keeping Christ’s Word. This means not only knowing it, but also doing it.

It was with reference to Jesus’ claim in (51) that ”the Jews” brought up the matter of Abraham (52, 53). They wondered, was He saying that He was greater than Abraham, who died? That He was greater than the prophets, who died? Clearly He was, and He is worthy, not just of our admiration and respect, but also of our worship.

John 8:42-47: ‘Liar, liar.’

John 8:42-47: ‘Liar, liar.’

42 Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’ NIV

David Pawson said that on one occasion he was invited to speak to a group of clergymen, and he was introduced as ”a preacher who STILL believes in the devil.”

Are you surprised that the world is full of hatred, violence, killing, murder and mayhem?

Are you shocked that the world is filled with lies?

We find it hard to trust the press. It’s not that everything we read is false, but we know that everyone has an angle. As we stand at the batting crease of life, so much information is bowled at us with a hair-raising amount of spin. We are pulled all over the place trying to deal with it. We are mesmerised by it.

We also find it difficult to believe the politicians. This widespread cynicism is sad, and somewhat misleading, because there are, I’m sure, many good and honest people in public office. But we believe we have been lied to by our leaders again and again. We are convinced that General Election campaigns are full of hype and false promises just to gain the most votes.

So do you find it strange, then, that a good number of people in the world ”still” believe in the devil, who, Jesus said, ”was a murderer from the beginning.” Also, it is the case that he does not hold ”to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (44).

Now I believe many Christians have been successfully lied to by Satan. They’ve been sold a pup. He has fathered families of lying offspring in hearts and minds. He has sown his seeds of falsehood in many a Christian field, and they have grown up into ugly choking weeds.

I know this passage deals primarily with the children of the devil (44): unconverted people who could not understand Jesus (43), or love Him (42); who could not hear Him (47) and who did not believe Him (46). They, in fact, wanted to kill Him (44). They had been duped by the many lies of their ”father”.

But today I particularly have in my heart fellow believers who are living well below the level of their privileges; who are not enjoying all that ‘abundant’ life means, because they have swallowed at least some of Satan’s lies. I pray that they may come to know the truth which sets free, then ”hold” (31) to that teaching for the rest of their days.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, by the power of your Spirit, please break these dark Satanic chains entangling and crushing so many hearts. Shine your light so brightly and your truth will set free.

John 8:31-41: No room…

John 8:31-41: No room…

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’33 They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’34 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.]39 ‘Abraham is our father,’ they answered.‘If you were Abraham’s children,’ said Jesus, ‘then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.’‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’ NIV

”…you have no room for my word” (37b).

When Jesus, the ‘Logos’ – the living ‘Word’ – was born in Bethlehem, there was no room for Him in the inn. Later on in life, as the Word spoke His word, He found there was still no room for it in many a heart.

How about you? Have you got room for His word today? Room for all the space it will require? Room for every aspect of that word? Making room for the word of Christ will almost certainly mean that some other things have to go. In with the new and out with the old! 

Do you make room in your life daily for this word – not just to read it but also to apply it?

Somebody said something like this, ”We belong to a church that will permit us to not obey Christ’s word; but it will not allow us to say that’s what we’re doing.” We (for whatever the reasons) tolerate a lot of bad behaviour in church life without challenging or rebuking it.

There are people in churches today who profess strong religious affiliation (33, 39a, 41b), but who have little room, if any, for the word. The sermon must be no more than five minutes, and they certainly want the preacher to cook up something bland. They don’t want any red hot ‘vinderloo’ strength sermons. They may not be so extreme as to wantto kill the clergyman, but they will definitely oppose him, snap at his heels and run him out of town if at all possible. Many an evangelical preacher has suffered at the hands of unconverted congregants. When people are set against the gospel, and don’t want to know the Biblical Christ, they show their true colours. They reveal their spiritual parentage. They show just how much they resemble their ‘dad’.

Making room for Christ’s word will entail perseverance (31), ‘holding’ to that word through all kinds of circumstantial ‘weather’. Holding doesn’t mean merely having a theological standpoint. It involves practising your beliefs day by day. The truth believed and lived out through a lifetime will produce a life of genuine freedom. We are called to the obedience of sonship, in which we obey our Father because we love Him. It’s not because we have to but because we want to. In Dan White junior’s excellent book, ‘Subterranean’, he talks in one chapter about how the current education system extracts people from life situations where the knowledge they are learning should be worked out. It separates them from life in the ‘real world’. It takes them into the academy and away from the ‘coal face’. He says that the way people learn in the world has also affected teaching in the church. But ”What matters…what is dynamite is what is truly practiced” (p.36).

Making room for Christ’s word will result in purity (34; see also Psalm 119:9, 11). There is power in Christ’s word to set you free from sin. But do you want this liberation? Or have you got quite used to your life being enemy occupied territory? Have you accommodated yourself to the presence of invaders in your life who really ought not to be there?

Warren Wiersbe makes the point that Satan imposes slavery that seems like freedom (2 Peter 2:19) – and I will add that we can quite enjoy it.

”The swallow would not thank you to be freed to live on carrion, but only to mount again into the sunny air. Jesus frees us by the truth. The slavegirl will no longer serve in the house of her cruel oppressor, when she learns that the act of emancipation has passed and has no longer any claim upon her.” F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.466.

PRAYER: Lord, by your grace, I open my life to your word today. Let it shape all I am and do.

John 8:31-32: True freedom.

John 8:31-32: True freedom.

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ NIV

Someone said, ”The truth will set you free, but first it will make you mad!!” Not everything Jesus teaches is palatable. Some of it will clash with your will; aspects of it will run contrary to your fond ambitions. But ironically, coming under the authority of Jesus will bring a person into true freedom. This is not liberty as the world understands it. You are not free to do as you wish; but you are freed to do what God wants. That is freedom ”indeed” (36). It’s a paradox, but in slavery to the LORD Jesus you will find perfect liberation.

There is an important vein of teaching running through the New Testament that says, ‘Genuine disciples persevere to the end.’ It’s not the starting that is so important as the finishing. We are called to ”hold” to Jesus’ teaching. There is an enemy of God (and therefore your foe also) who wants to rip this truth from your grasp. But if you endure the onslaughts and keep on clinging to this true word, you will find that through the years your knowledge will increase, and so will your freedom. It’s the freedom to be holy; to become increasingly like Jesus. Only a true disciple can know how desirable this is.

John 8:21-30: Lost people matter to God.

John 8:21-30: Lost people matter to God.

“21 Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’22 This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, “Where I go, you cannot come”?’23 But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.’25 ‘Who are you?’ they asked.‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,’ Jesus replied. 26 ‘I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.’27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’ 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.” NIV

As we have seen, especially in chapters 7 and 8, Jesus was surrounded by an atmosphere of intimidation, abuse and danger. It swirled around Him like smoke. Murder was in the air. There were people who wanted Him dead. It’s true to say that this was not the whole story. There were others who were fascinated by Jesus and open to hear from Him. But the people were divided. They were not on the same wavelength as the Lord:

”You’re tied to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms.” The Message.

Yet Jesus did not allow His enemies to silence Him. He was in a scary environment, but He pulled no punches. Three times in this short section He speaks about the possibility of dying ”in your sin” (or ”sins”: verses 21, 24). One commentator made the point that to die with your sins unforgiven; unatoned for, is the greatest tragedy in the Bible. We must never be afraid to preach the unadulterated gospel. It will produce results (30).

There is a danger in contemporary evangelicalism that many Christians may be losing touch with the reality that lost people really are lost; that those who die rejecting Christ will stay lost for eternity. To use old fashioned terms, we need a ‘burden’ for ‘souls’ that will populate our prayer meetings and stir us to faithful witness, even as we feel the walls of secularism slowly moving in to crush our testimony.

The call of Jesus is to ”believe” in Him (24). This is the only way to escape such a terrible fate.

Twice in this passage Jesus uses the expression “I am” (24, 28). The translation adds the explanatory words: ”that I am the one I claim to be”, but in the original language I understand Jesus just says ”I am”. His courage was immense, for His Jewish detractors would certainly want Him done away with for such an ‘outrageous’ claim. We must not lose sight of the fact that Jesus repeatedly claimed to be God, and if we trust in Him it has to be faith in this Bible Jesus – this divine Jesus – and not another of our own making.

John 8: 12-20: ”Lighten our darkness”.

John 8: 12-20: ”Lighten our darkness”.

“12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’13 The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’14 Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’19 Then they asked him, ‘Where is your father?’‘You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.” NIV

In John’s gospel you find a number of repeated themes. There are key words and phrases which come up again and again. Three of them are found in this short section:

  1. ”Light” (12). This is another of the ”I Am” sayings in the fourth gospel. They are undoubtedly claims to divinity.

    There are at least two ways in which we may think of God/Christ being ”light”:

  • Light is about clear sight: He brings illumination into our lives. He reveals spiritual truth to our hearts. He gives understanding. He also sheds light on our way. He shows us what to do/where to go. He guides our feet in His paths. At times He may only give enough light for the next step. But that is enough. And when you take it you’ll probably be able to see a further step;
  • Light is about a clean conscience: He brings holiness into our lives (1 John 1:5ff). As we walk in the light of Biblical truth we find that we are on the sunlit road of godliness. To walk in the light means to live in openness before the Lord and fellow believers, confessing our sins and experiencing the cleansing of the blood of Christ.
  1. ”Testimony”/”witness” (13, 14, 17, 18): There is a legal air to this. Jesus is verified/affirmed as God’s Son. He is who He says He is. Of course, as God, Jesus knew precisely who He was and where He was going (14,15). He could capably testify to Himself, but the Pharisees would not accept this (13). However, because the Father also testified to Him, there was the required twofold witness (17,18).
  1. ”Hour” (20). It was not yet ”time” for Jesus to die. When He did die it was obvious that God was in control, not wicked men.This was not a tragic waste of a young life, but a purposeful death. It could not happen outside of God’s timescale.

This section of the fourth gospel opens with the words: ”When Jesus spoke again to the people…” (12). Note the little, but so important, word ”again”. Here is an insight into Jesus’ perseverance. We read in (7:43) that ”the people were divided because of Jesus”. Yes, there were those who were open to Him and interested in Him; in fact fascinated by Him. But others were aggressive and abusive and some wanted to kill Him. Yet Jesus would not be silenced. Like a rubber ball He came bouncing back!! When Manchester United won their first European Champions League title under Sir Alex Ferguson (then just plain Alex), they had to slowly but surely claw their way back into a game that they were losing at half time. In the closing minutes they equalised through Teddy Sheringham, then ‘super sub’ Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came on and won it for them with virtually the last kick of the match. In his post match interview Sir Alex, as I recall, said something like this: ”I’m so proud of my team. They never gave in; they just kept going. The famous nineteenth century preacher C.H. Spurgeon said, ”By perseverance the snail made it to the ark.”

In Junior school, we regularly said this prayer at the end of the day. It seems appropriate to quote it here: ”Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee O Lord, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.”

John 7:53 – 8:11: Three pointing back…

John 7:53 – 8:11: Three pointing back…

“53 Then they all went home, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered round him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’11 ‘No one, sir,’ she said.‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’ NIV

The earliest and most reliable ancient manuscripts of the gospel of John do not contain John 7:53-8:11. But this beautiful story does not contradict any other part of the Bible, and it fits with the picture of the Jesus we know from elsewhere.

This short story points to:

  1. The centrality of Jesus (2). Jesus has ”appeared” to us. We can only see Him because He has revealed Himself to us. And our lives personally, and the church’s life collectively, centres ”round” Him. We revolve around Him. He has ultimately authority in our lives and we listen to and obey His teaching. He is the centre of our orbit.
  2. The hostility of the religious leaders (3-6). There is a challenge here about how we treat people – especially those we know to have done wrong. Many years ago, because of a mistake I made in a Physics exercise, a science teacher not only humiliated me in front of my own class, but also marched me down the corridor to where my maths teacher was working with a group. He proceeded to rant about my stupidity in front of her and her class. That day I felt deep shame. What was it like for this poor woman when ”They made her stand before the group…” ?And by the way, there was profound hypocrisy here, for if the woman was ”caught in the act of adultery” (4), where was the man? (See Leviticus 20:10).Presumably he had been let go? How do we treat people whose lives, we know, run contrary to the Word of God? Do we remember that they are still in the image of their Maker, even though it has been defaced? Do we treat them with dignity? Do we show a proper recognition of their worth and value? Do we remember our own faults? Bill Hybels says, ”You will never lock eyes with anyone who doesn’t matter to the Father.” You need to remember that when you point a finger at someone else, you have three others pointing back.
  3. The charity of Jesus (6b-11): No one knows exactly what Jesus was doing when He ”bent down” and wrote in the dust (6b, 8), but I find the suggestion attractive that He was listing the sins of these violently critical men. It seems they came under conviction of sin. None of them were without it (7). The older ones, who had the longest sinning experience, were the first to leave. Eventually, only two people were left – Jesus and the woman. Jesus was balanced in His approach. He didn’t compromise with evil, but neither did He condemn her. Rather, He called to repentance. Jesus shows mercy so that we may pursue a life of holiness. He does not expect us to continue to flirt with sin.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me in a way that is different to how anyone else would treat me. I deserve condemnation, but your grace has given me a fresh start and a second chance at life. Help me to never abuse your great kindness.

John 7: 45-52: The ignorance of arrogance.

John 7: 45-52: The ignorance of arrogance.

“45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’46 ‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards replied.47 ‘You mean he has deceived you also?’ the Pharisees retorted. 48 ‘Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law – there is a curse on them.’50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 ‘Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?’52 They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.’ NIV

Three A’s!

ATTRACTION (45, 46): It’s a lovely story isn’t? The temple guards who had been despatched to arrest Jesus (32), came back empty handed. You can’t imagine that these men were easily put off in their work, and it probably wasn’t a good idea for them to be negligent. They had tough bosses, and my guess is they were no softies themselves. But they were utterly charmed by the words of Jesus. It’s a compelling insight into Christ’s magnetism. If they are honest, probably very few would argue with the assertion that Jesus spoke the best and most beautiful words in the world. They may not believe in His divinity, but they cannot doubt the power and persuasiveness of His teaching.

ARROGANCE (47 – 49):This is not a winsome quality. Arrogant people feel and act superior. They are dismissive of the thoughts, ideas and opinions of others. They imagine they know best and are unteachable. They are, as someone put it, ”Blocked learners.” If you ever recognise the slightest hint of arrogance growing up inside you, root it out before it spreads and covers the whole garden of your soul. It’s a malignant, destructive weed. It does not belong in a believer’s heart. It’s incongruous.

ASSERTIVENESS (50-52): While the Pharisees were putting others down, Nicodemus spoke up for Jesus. You can be assertive without being arrogant. It may have been easier for him to keep silent, but as all soldiers of the cross should, he stood up for Jesus. Nicodemus may not yet have experienced the new birth. We just don’t know. But he certainly knew about it, and he was deeply impressed by Jesus (John 3:2). We also have reason to believe that he spoke for others of his group. He was not alone in his admiration. You don’t have to be rude to be assertive, but you do have to be brave. In an atmosphere that seems to be increasingly secular and anti-Christian, may God the Holy Spirit give us the backbone to speak up for Jesus, even if it makes us unpopular and abuse comes flying our way.

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