One day in Galilee, Jesus encountered some Pharisees who confronted Him with what appeared to be an amazing contradiction of previous actions. They were in effect telling Jesus to get out of that part of the country because King Herod wanted to kill Him. This was a departure from the “religious police” (Pharisees) goal of killing Jesus. Who were these Pharisees that were breaking from the ranks? Why would they want to warn Jesus? I would suggest that Nicodemus, who had secretly met with Jesus before, and a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council (John 3:1, Luke 23:50,) were the Pharisees that encountered Jesus. To do what they did would amount to religious treason, for they were aiding and abetting the enemy. Were their actions a legitimate concern for Jesus’ safety, or was there something else involved? I wonder how many Christians today are dealing with conflicting commitments. On one side is the Kingdom of God, and the other side is Satan’s Kingdom. These two Kingdoms are diametrically opposed to each other. Yet, many Believers exhibit both Kingdoms in their daily routines. The Bible teaches we are not of the world, yet we display so much of the world in our lives. (John 17:16) The two Kingdoms do not homogenize, for they are totally different from each other. The two Pharisees’ lives had been so affected that they were presented with a situation that called for them to choose which way they would pursue. They decided to confront Jesus with a scenario that might spare Jesus from religious persecution in Galilee, as well as keeping their religious standing with the hierarchy.
Nicodemus and Joseph confronted Jesus with an outline of a story that Herod wanted to kill Him. They were hoping they could get Jesus to leave Galilee, which was under Herod’s jurisdiction. In doing so, Jesus would prevent any confrontation with the religious leaders in that part of Israel. If they were able to get Jesus out of Galilee, they would still have the problem of outwardly supporting Him in full view of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Careful study of the Scriptures will show that Herod was not seeking to kill Jesus; rather, he was very excited to meet Him. He had heard many things about Him and would love to see some miracles. (Luke 23:8) It seems Nicodemus and Joseph were “winging” it. The evidence shows that their belief in Jesus was relatively strong, as was their religious commitment to the Law. Today, Believers should never have that kind of decision to make.
Jesus saw through them and responded with, what I believe was, a “tongue in cheek” statement by saying: “Go and tell the fox,” (Herod) what He was going to do. There would have been no way for two Pharisees to get an audience with the King. The High Priest and the rulers of the Sanhedrin could request an audience, but their changes of an audience would be very slim. Herod was not threatening to kill Jesus; instead, he would have liked to be entertained by Jesus. Jesus simply outlined His intent to continue on His journey to Jerusalem where He would fulfill the Scripture that a prophet could not perish outside of Jerusalem.” (Luke 15:33) Even though Nicodemus and Joseph’s plan was flawed, for Jesus was going to leave Galilee anyway, they at least attempted to do what they thought was the right thing. They were willing to cross that line and believe whom Jesus really was. Even though they had no plan to help Jesus in Jerusalem, they attempted to do something! Remember, it was Nicodemus and Joseph that claimed the body of Jesus after the crucifixion and prepared it for burial. (John 19:38-42) Are we willing to make a stand for the Kingdom? Are we willing to do whatever we can to promote our beliefs? Are we willing to leave our comfort zones? Are we willing to be on record as a Believer? The Bible calls on every Believer to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. (Mark 12:30) Anything less defines “lukewarmness.”