Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” (John 7:50-52)
Relate: Then Nicodemus… I love those two words. They carry irony. They carry power. Some of the Pharisees had just finished saying, “Not one of us believes in Him.” Then Nicodemus…
One of them shouted out in anger, “A curse upon Him!” Then Nicodemus…
A few months earlier this religious leader barely had the courage to come to Jesus in the middle of the night. But he did. He listened. Then Nicodemus…
Then Nicodemus, scared Nicodemus, stood up before his friends and spoke in Jesus’ defense.
Then Nicodemus responded to their condemnation by requesting a hearing.
Then Nicodemus, believing Nicodemus, hoped and prayed that His friends would come to believe as well if only they listened and heard the words of His Savior.
React: Is our past walk with God marked by secrecy and fear? Have we kept our faith in the shadows? Are we living in hiding? Today is a new day. Nicodemus literally took his life in his hands when he spoke up before his peers. The pharisees were already planning how they might kill Jesus and soon those plots would turn towards his followers as well. He was risking his life’s work and his career. His peers had already declared that anybody who followed Jesus would be thrown out of the synagogue. He would be ostracized by his peers and all his study and research would be for nothing.
It seems like such a small, innocuous thing that he says here, but we must look at it from his perspective. For a long time he silently and quietly following after Jesus, then Nicodemus came into the light. For a long time he kept his head down and his mouth shut. Then Nicodemus stood and spoke. He risked it all. From where I sit it seems easy to speak out about Jesus. It is safe. Perhaps some reading this are living in parts of the world where it is not so safe. Perhaps for you testifying that Jesus is Savior and Lord and God could mean ostracism, losing your job, or even death. Know that I am praying for you. I might not know you by name but I am praying for you daily. I encourage you to be like Nicodemus. Stand up. Speak out. Eternity is worth it and the hosts of heaven are cheering you on.
Respond: God, right now I pray for the persecuted church. I pray for those in the Muslim world, in India, in North Korea and in other places where standing up and speaking out is a danger and a risk we cannot truly imagine. Be with them. Encourage them. Protect them. Grant them the courage to boldly speak Your Name whatever the consequences. One day You will return and all the earth will see and rejoice at the stories of courage and faith happening right now all around that world. Until that day, give them the peace to know that You see. You know. And You are so very proud of them.