Nicodemus and the blind man

 

(John 3:1 NIV)  Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.

(John 3:2 NKJV)  This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."

(Mat 20:30 NIV)  Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"

The story of the blind man who called to out to Jesus, as the “Son of David”, ie the Messiah, has often been contrasted to Nicodemus, the Pharisee and Jewish council member who came to Jesus at night and addressed Him as a teacher. The faith and insight of the unlearned blind man to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah versus the highly religious and law abiding leader who seemingly fail to understand why one must be born again is a rebuke to many of us modern day Pharisees who demand a “proof” and great actions of obedience by the law to substantiate our beliefs rather than faith. The blind man even though did not see Jesus, believed by faith, and on account on his faith, he was healed.

Jesus gave the blind men what he wanted, which was healing and he became His followers. However, the blind man had no choice but to shout and scream from a far for Jesus to hear them, for he was at a dead end – living in blindness. Jesus was his last hope. When he came to Jesus, it may not have been by faith alone, but desperation to exalt Jesus as the Messiah. He had nothing to lose for he had nothing in the first place. Jesus nevertheless honored his search and hope for physical salvation. And, He gave him both physical and spiritual redemption. Jesus always answers our seeking heart even though our motives may be self serving. Jesus gives us much more than we ever ask of Him.

Hypothetically, if the blind man was not blind but was a Pharisee, would he have sought Jesus, would he in his desperation called out to Him as their Lord and Savior? unlikely. Sometimes, we may shout and scream at God why He has created us gay. However, just as the blind men received sight, through our pains, and sufferings, as Gay people who are so persecuted and deprived of our basic rights, and locked up in a dark closet, there is a special anointing and great spiritual insight for us to understand the Amazing Grace of God. Being Gay can be a blessing, to see the Light of God, to see the heart and love of God for all humanity and to begin to love ourselves. If we had been straight, we would have been no different than the most Christians, to persecute the weak and the vulnerable in our self righteousness.

Nicodemus on the other hand, had no reason to seek Jesus. He had no physical and pressing need. He himself had reached the pinnacle of his religious faith being a Pharisee and part of the Jewish ruling council. In Singapore, he would have been a committee member of the Council of Churches, and a member of Parliament. He came to Jesus at night, not wanting to be seen with such a controversial figure as not to undermine his own standing. He had everything to lose to be aligned with Jesus. Yet, he came to Jesus for he was searching, keenly aware of the something missing in his own faith beliefs and perplexed by the amazing miracles that Jesus did to verify His authority which was not humanly possible. When he came to Jesus, he was very cautious, calling Him a teacher.

Some churches would say that it was not only knowing the bible but understanding and acting on it that Nicodemus required. Surely, he would have heard John the Baptist preaching about Jesus! However, John the Baptist was a real radical (and not the OT bible), and if we had just the Old Testament Bible, we would likely be a self righteous Pharisee. If we had acted in accordance to the law we probably would have followed the Pharisees and sent Jesus to His death. Yet, Nicodemus had a very different spirit. He was open to the move of the Holy Spirit, to the possibility that he himself might have been wrong about Jesus, and was open minded in examining the evidence. He could not deny the amazing miracles that Jesus had done. The OT Bible if sincerely followed only leads to one conclusion, our own lack to follow the laws, and the need for a Messiah to save us.

Nicodemus was able to penetrate though the walls of his Jewish religious construction by having the right pair of insightful eye sight. He could see the deficiencies of his religious dogmas. If Jesus were not from God, He could not have done all the miracles, he would have asked!  Nicodemus had a very different attitude from the rest of the Pharisees even though he was senior and a leader. Such leadership is rare in modern day Christianity. We seldom hear of major Christian leaders questioning why we are against gays when sexual orientation is innate, and that the love between two gay men are no different than between a man and a woman both capable of deep sacrificial love, care and support to each other. Instead, just as the Pharisees spread lies about Jesus, we too spread lies about gays.

Nicodemus was able to step out of his own closet of religion and begin a conversation with Jesus Christ, and this conversation was far more profound than the short conversation the blind man had with Jesus. It was a big risk and a step of faith to visit Jesus to have a private conversation with Him. The Pharisees had been hitherto challenging and debating with Jesus in the daylight and He answered them in parables for they weren’t seeking the truth but to fault Jesus. Nicodemus sought the truth and wanted a private conversation rather than a public debate, to learn rather than to accuse. How many Christian leaders were able to come with the spirit of humility and learning on the GLBT issue, rather than coming to condemn, accuse and to crucify using the bible.

Nicodemus’ OT bible theological construction was challenged during the conversation he had with Jesus. Hitherto, salvation has been through following the religious laws and worshiping the true God, much alike all religions. God was seen as a mystery who had revealed Himself to Moses at Mt Sinai and is coming back to deliver them from the oppression of the Romans and their pagan gods. The separation of worshipping the God of Israel, as opposed to engaging in the worship of other gods which were mostly very sexual in nature led to the strict enforcement of the law.

(John 3:3 NKJV)  Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

(John 3:5 NKJV)  Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

It is ironical that Nicodemus, the foremost Pharisee in Israel and the teacher of religious laws to reach God, was not able to see and experience God even though he was worshipping the God of Israel (John 3:10). In this man was embodied the Word and Orthodoxy, yet it did not lead him to “see” God.    Jesus explained to him to need to “born again” by water and the Spirit:-

a) By water – to repent of our sins, and to die to our old self by identifying with Christ’s death and sacrifice through the act of submerging ourselves in water representing His death and journey down to the gates of hell, and the rising from the water representing an identification with Christ’s resurrection, the victory over sin and acceptance by God of His sacrifice for our sins, and total cleansing to become a new creation in Christ.

Nicodemus would have a hard time understanding for Jesus had not died yet. When Jesus died and rose again, he finally understood especially when the body could not be found. He offered to give Jesus a royal burial.

A counterfeit practice in the Canaanite religion was the sacrifice of babies to the god Molech. A blood sacrifice for blessings was required. In Christ, we do not need to sacrifice our love ones, for Christ paid the penalty for us, and we are required to place our sins and our lives upon that unblemished lamb to be sacrificed on our behalf.  

b) By the Holy Spirit – to represent and identify with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit upon Christ Jesus where upon He started His ministry on earth.  We still cannot “see God” without having a spiritual connection and surrender to the Spirit of God. The water baptism is a physical act unto salvation allowing us to become a new creation to come before the throne room of God as an unblemished lamb, but seeing God in our lives and allowing God to work though us unimpeded requires a Spiritual vessel. Our own spirit must be totally attuned and be a servant to the Spirit of God, to the Holy Spirit.

We are born again by the Holy Spirit, by surrendering our minds, theological constructs, orthodoxy, and inviting the Holy Spirit to fill us anew with His mind. It is to break open our spiritual sight to see God working in a new way. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a continuous experience, to become channels of God’s love, grace, and mercy, to receive power for the ministry and work of God. We are to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, to submerge ourselves one with the Spirit of God, so that He can work mightily within us and through us.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind, because it cannot be forced to do our will, rather it is us who require to follow its leading when it appears. It cannot be controlled by men. We cannot demand that the Holy Spirit do our bidding, rather just like the wind coming and going, the Holy Spirit works selectively and to His own timing and will. In the upper room, they had to wait upon to Holy Spirit to filled them with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on high. It is not we having the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit having us.

A counterfeit practice in the Canaanite religion was having anal sex with the temple priests. By having sex, the man inserting his semen, into the priests thus joining his being to be one with the god. The priests will wear women’s clothing and even castrate himself so that he become more attractive to the straight men. Therefore, the baptism of the Holy Spirit involves a deliberate act and determination to allow the Spirit of God to enter into us. We can’t be baptize without knowing it, and we cannot be born again by the Holy Spirit without recognizing it. It is different from the symbolic Baptism by water for which we have our salvation.

 It is dissapointing that the most ardent anti-gay groups belong to the Charismatic Evangelical churches, the NCC, City Harvest, COS, FCBC, Cornerstone etc which focused on the Holy Spirit. They believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit for which under the OT is rare, and contrary to following the fixed Word of God - the letter of the Law. There is no flexibility, no regard to the context or mitigating circumstances for the laws are absolute. For example, under an interpretation of the OT Law, they convicted Jesus to death.God cannot be seen under the law in that the works under the law is fixed rather than inspired by the Holy Spirit working through us which cannot be ordered.

When we are led of the Holy Spirit rather than by the letter of the OT laws, we will begin to see God's creation of the GLBT community as something wonderful and varied with many colours of rainbow, the colours of an inclusive Christianity.

(John 19:39 NKJV) And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

(John 19:40 NKJV) Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

The concept of Being born again by the Spirit of God probably all came to an understanding to Nicodemus when he saw the infilling of the Holy Spirit at the upper room after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The last we hear of Nicodemus was his annointing of Jesus with a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes which was a royal send off.He knew Jesus was innocent even though his interpretation OT law may not.   

Nicodemus became the only major religious leader who had the opportunity to annoint Jesus at His death. Perhaps the blind man was also there, now no longer blind but a follower of Jesus. Both now meet at Jesus' tomb, perplexed why Jesus had to die. Yet the work of God through the Holy Spirit never left them, for the blind man was now healed and Nicodemus even though with sight had seen God in person.

When the Gay community desperate like the blind man to see Jesus, Jesus will meet us there. When we are desperate for God, our being gay may be the grace of God to experience and relate to Jesus with such an insight of His love, grace and mercy that few men could see. God is not against us, God is not against gays. Today, reach out to Jesus and in that moment of grace, His hand is outreached to meet you where you are. Let us shout to Jesus and proclaimed Him as God and Saviour just like the blind man did and we will see God and the light of His acceptance of us as a gay people of faith, and His beloved.

When we who worship and love the Word of God in a consistent and authentic way, with a heart to seek the truth, then we will be able to move beyond what our theological construct tells us. The Holy Spirit will meet us there in private to explain to us great truths that hitherto has been hidden from us, no longer a mystery, we will see God in person when we are not so fixed in our beliefs. It is time for the church to be like Nicodemus, always searching and asking when our beliefs seem to contradict an obvious truth that our sexual orientation whether gay or straight is innate. 

 It is time for the church to come out of blindness and to see the Light of God to accept God's GLBT children. 

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