Friday, April 19, 2024

Going Undercover

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38 NLT)

The first time I heard the gospel on my high school campus, I didn’t walk up and join everyone who was at the meeting that day. My high school had a group of outspoken Christians who held daily Bible studies on the front lawn of the school at lunchtime. Everyone knew who they were. And we either hated them or felt sorry for them.

My friends warned me to stay away from the Christians, which I did for a while. But I also was sort of interested in these unusual people who carried Bibles to school and talked about Jesus as though He were their next-door neighbor.

Then one day, out of curiosity, I went to one of their meetings. However, I sat close enough to hear what was going on but far enough away that I didn’t appear to be part of them. And that was the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ.

Initially I was reluctant to be identified with the Christians. I wanted to do things quietly and secretly. A lot of people are like that today. They don’t want to say they’re Christians. They prefer to be undercover believers.

Nicodemus went undercover, so to speak, to engage in conversation with Jesus. The Bible tells us that he came to see Jesus “after dark” (John 3:2). To his credit, at least Nicodemus went to see Him.

Why would Nicodemus seek out Jesus at night? There are several possible explanations. For example, maybe it was a cooler time of the day to visit. But I think the more plausible explanation is that Nicodemus, being a man of notoriety, wanted to talk with Jesus incognito.

He didn’t want to be recognized because he went to ask Jesus a lot of serious questions. After all, Nicodemus was a man who was supposed to have the answers. Instead, he had questions.

When some people are first checking out the gospel, they’re apprehensive. That’s because they’re afraid of what others might think.

In the end, Nicodemus turned out to be one of the most courageous of Jesus’ followers. After the crucifixion, a man named Joseph of Arimathea showed up with Nicodemus to claim the body of Jesus. John’s Gospel gives us this detail: “With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes” (19:39 NLT).

At this point the Lord’s own disciples had deserted Him. But Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea came and claimed the body of the Lord. They were willing to be counted for their faith.

As the years have passed, I’ve seen many people fall away from the faith whom I thought would make their mark on this world for God. And I’ve been very surprised. Then there have been others whom I thought would do nothing, and they’ve done a lot.

Nicodemus started slowly, but in the end, he came through. It is great to start the race well. But it’s also important to finish it.

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