Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DULL (05/12/17)
- TITLE: How Far Can a Pharisee See?
By Gerald Shuler
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“Shalom,” Jesus said, “Welcome to our campfire, Nicodemus.”
The man in the shadow stopped short. He took a small step backward, ready to retreat. “You know me?” he asked. “You know who I am?”
“I have seen you often as you listened to my stories with your other Pharisee friends. But why come to our camp at such a late hour by yourself?”
Nicodemus shuffled his feet and looked at the knife Peter now held openly in his hand, ready to defend his master. Slowly, the knife went back into its sheath and Nicodemus took a cautious step closer to Jesus.
“We Pharisees know the miracles you do is from God, as is your teaching. I have come privately with my own question.”
Jesus smiled warmly. “Nicodemus, don't you understand that no man can enter heaven unless he has been born again?” Without even being asked, Jesus had known the very heart of what had brought this man to Him.
“Born again?” Nicodemus sounded truly puzzled. “I don't understand. How can a man be born of his mother a second time?”
Jesus had to compose himself to keep from laughing. “You are a high ruler of the people and you don't even know what I am saying? Nicodemus, the eyes of the Pharisees are indeed made dull by their own teaching. I teach of earthly things and you don't see what I am saying. You have already been born of the flesh by your mother, giving you earthly life. You now need to be born of the Spirit and attain spiritual life.”
“This is not taught in our nation. How can it be?”
The disciples of Jesus were shaking their heads in awe of this Pharisee's ignorance but, still, they listened to the Lord's answer because it was exactly what they had themselves been confused about.
“Nicodemus, God loved His creation, He loved you, so much that He sent His only flesh born son into the world to become a part of that creation. He did it so that all mankind... no matter what their sins... could finally have a way to attain this eternal spiritual life. No one will be excluded from this gift of life, but it is only through His son that it can come. Do you understand, Nicodemus?”
The Pharisee had the beginning of a glimmer in his eye. His eyebrows shifted like a small child answering his teacher even though he wasn't certain of the answer.
“I have heard you teach about a land owner sending his son as a messenger.” His brow cringed even deeper. “Are you that son?”
The disciples were shocked to hear these words come from a Pharisee's mouth. Jesus could be put to death for just suggesting such a concept. Surely the Master would know this.
Jesus put his hand on the ruler's shoulder. “Nicodemus, eternal life is within your grasp. What do you say?”
Nicodemus sat down on a nearby rock. The impact of what he had just learned left his legs untrustworthy. For a time he simply rocked back and forth, recalling the many stories and parables this teacher had told. When he had first heard them he, and all the other Pharisees, had cast them away as a madman's rambling. But now... but now? Each story suddenly made sense from both a natural view and, to his astonishment, a spiritual view.
When finally the Pharisee left the campsite he was a changed man. He knew, of course, that this change would cause problems in his influential role as a Pharisee, but he would take that as a roll of the dice. The new man who left the garden was so different that even the disciples hugged his neck as he left.
So, how far can a Pharisee see? This one saw all the way to eternity. But, dear friend, the more important question isn't 'How far can a Pharisee see?'. The question that must be answered is “How far can YOU see?”
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