Binding Broken Hearts

Introducing Jesus to Those Who Need Him Most

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The Value of One - Part 5

It started after dark when the city was quiet. A man moved stealthily through the streets on a mission of his own. His heart was seeking Jesus. He had to find Him. He moved through the city gates and up onto the mountain to the place where he knew Jesus would be. And the discourse began.

He came to Jesus at night and said, “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.” John 3:2

Jesus does not reply to this conversation opener that Nicodemus began with. Instead, Jesus got to the heart of Nicodemus’ matter:

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3

However Nicodemus envisioned the conversation going, it was definitely not like this. Being “born again” was for Gentiles coming into the Jewish faith. Surely Jesus was not equating Nicodemus – a member of the Sanhedrin – with a Gentile!

We may wonder at Jesus’s presentation style. After all, while Jesus was gracious, He certainly didn’t sugar coat His response to Nicodemus. You can almost hear the wheels in the disciples’ heads turning furiously. I can imagine that they were thinking that Jesus was blowing a golden opportunity to court the favors of a member of the Sanhedrin. Perhaps they were thinking that Jesus needed to back off a bit and not be so pointed with Nicodemus. Nicodemus was the kind of person they needed in their corner and Jesus was pushing him away!

But Jesus wasn’t concerned with currying the favor of Nicodemus. Jesus was concerned with Nicodemus’ soul. Thus, Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit, moved the conversation in a direction that left Nicodemus with no doubts that Jesus’ message was he needed a new heart from above.

When Nicodemus left that night, he did not leave as a converted soul. He did not openly proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. He did not leave everything to follow Jesus. In fact, it looked like there was no impact whatsoever from the conversation. I’m sure the disciples were greatly disappointed that the Bible study with Nicodemus didn’t produce any results. But Jesus knew differently.

"But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet. . . . The light from that secret interview illumined the cross upon Calvary, and Nicodemus saw in Jesus the world’s Redeemer. After the Lord’s ascension, when the disciples were scattered by persecution, Nicodemus came boldly to the front. He employed his wealth in sustaining the infant church that the Jews had expected to be blotted out at the death of Christ. In the time of peril he who had been so cautious and questioning was firm as a rock, encouraging the faith of the disciples, and furnishing means to carry forward the work of the gospel. He was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. He became poor in this world’s goods; yet he faltered not in the faith which had its beginning in that night conference with Jesus." Desire of Ages, pp 176, 177

Think for a moment. What if Jesus had refused to see Nicodemus because it was late and everyone was already asleep? What if Jesus had suggested that Nicodemus come at a more reasonable time during regular business hours? What if Jesus had been concerned about offending Nicodemus – a member of the Sanhedrin – and had not spoken so plainly about the plan of salvation? What if Jesus had been discouraged because it looked like the effort put into this one person apparently produced no immediate fruit?

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:4-7

Remember, God values the “one.” God may ask us to inconvenience ourselves and minister to someone outside of normal business hours when all we really want to do is relax and unwind. We need to do it anyway. God may ask us to speak plain truth to someone, and we’d rather not so as not to offend. We need to do it anyway. God may ask us to do an entire Bible study series with someone who doesn’t appear to be fruitful for the Kingdom. We need to do it anyway. That one – seemingly unresponsive to the gospel – may be one who will help lead God’s people through to final victory. And, maybe, only in heaven we will find out.

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