Nicodemus wrapped his Sudarium cloth around his head and pulled the ends around to conceal his face. ‘It wouldn’t do to be recognized on the streets of Jerusalem tonight”, he thought. He then stepped into the cool darkness, lifting his fine linen robe to avoid dragging the long tassels. He had arranged for a secret meeting with a most controversial Rabbi named Yeshua. “I’m a respected member of the Sanhedrin court, a devout Pharisee”, he said under his breath. He hurried along the dark streets. “I have memorized the Torah. I have interpreted it thoroughly with the Mishna. I have read all of the commentaries of the Talmud. Why do I need to consider this man?” Nicodemus continued to question his own logic as he arrived at the secret meeting place. Yeshua was there waiting.
Nicodemus had thought of his opening line in far in advance of their meeting. The miracles Yeshua was performing, such as the healing of a leper, had never been performed since the giving of the Torah. Indeed, the Babylonian Talmud confirmed it. Only the Messiah could perform this miracle. He had remembered the message Yeshua sent to the imprisoned John the Baptist when asked if He was the Messiah…
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”, Yeshua had replied. (Luke 7:22)
Yes… all these miracles, they are the very ones deemed unique to the Messiah in the Talmud. He must tactfully put Yeshua on trial to prove His identity. So as Nicodemus approached the young Rabbi, he began with flattery:
“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.”, Nicodemus said as he sat facing the younger man.
The flattery fell flat as Yeshua responded, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”.
Nicodemus was not surprised. A skilled debater and teacher himself, he well understood the rabbinical method of using figurative language to teach spiritual truth. So he continued on using Yeshua’s symbolism:
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
But Yeshua… JESUS… HEARD A HEARTFELT CRY through the wordplay: “It’s too late for me to go back. I am an elder, a Pharisee of Pharisees. I can’t just start all over!”
He then looked deep into the eyes of Nicodemus and answered,
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus was suddenly reminded of the words of the prophet Ezekiel:
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will REMOVE FROM YOU YOUR HEART OF STONE AND GIVE YOU A HEART OF FLESH. And I will put my Spirit in you… and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
“NO! NO! this CAN’T be right!”, Nicodemus screamed silently, “The Mishna, the Talmud… I… I am a Pharisee of Pharisees!”. His thoughts betrayed him.
“How…How can this be?”, He heard himself transparently asking the Rabbi.
“You are Israel’s teacher”, the Rabbi replied, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Nicodemus was beginning to understand. It was as if, suddenly, the Torah itself began to point him to Yeshua Jesus. As if his eyes were opened for the very first time. He felt born again.
“FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.”, Yeshua went on. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Nicodemus was filled with emotion at this Word, this Man, Yeshua Jesus. “Truly this is the Son of God”, he mumbled… and he believed.
As he left their meeting, Nicodemus no longer crept quietly along the streets of Jerusalem. Indeed, he found himself singing the psalms of joy as the warm Israel sun began to rise in the east.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”, sang Nicodemus, as he made his way home.
Joseph got up, took the child and His mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. – Matthew 2: 14-15 ✝️
I love to imagine the little details between the lines of God’s word. It was John the Apostle that said,
“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” – John 21:25
For instance, Yeshua Jesus spent the first years of His earthly life in Egypt. The gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh that Yahweh provided through the Magi were likely used to finance that trip (but that is another entire story). Jesus would have been about four or five when they returned to Israel after Herod had died.
I love to imagine the young Yeshua Jesus walking among the Pyramids and looking at the Sphinx. For these things were ancient monuments even then! What a perspective the Creator of the universe would have had as He viewed these monoliths.
Would He have been awed by them? Admired them? Or would He have had a different perspective… one which encompassed a culture of slavery in which not only the Hebrews, but an entire people was enslaved? In fact, the Great Pyramids represent an entire people dying for their King.
My point does not end here, though. Many such monuments, such as Auschwitz, are not beautiful nor do they represent something or someone we admire. But they are there so that we NEVER FORGET. So that history never again repeats itself in such a horrific way.
WE MUST NOT ERASE THESE MONUMENTS AND MEMORIES FROM OUR CULTURE, OR OUR CULTURE WILL BE DOOMED TO REPEAT THE VERY HORRORS THEY REPRESENT.
It’s amazing to think that Jesus once viewed the monuments of Egypt and that we can view them ourselves today, and to realize that an entire people died for their King, so that the King would live eternally through the Pyramids. But it’s even more amazing to realize that another King, the true King, did just the opposite. He died for His people. Yeshua Jesus, King of all Creation, died for each and every one of us, so that we might live forever through Him. ❤️
THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT ✝️
“If only I could touch the hem of His robe”, she thought… Mariam hurried towards the crowd on the Galilean shore. She had heard about the Rabbi Yeshua Jesus; how His teaching amazed even the Pharisees and how He claimed to be the Son of Yahweh. She had yearned to follow Him, but, for Miriam, it could never be.
Her childhood had been magical. Her parents owned a little shop in Galilee that sold fine linens and silks from the far East. She had traveled often with her father to purchase these treasures. “Miriam, you are gifted in business”, her mother often told her, “You will go far in this world”. Her father was equally proud of her. And her many friends admired her. But then tragedy struck her young life. At the age of twelve, her body betrayed her. She began bleeding continuously, and as the law required, she was to stay seclusion until seven days after the bleeding stopped. But for Miriam, the bleeding NEVER stopped. She was considered unclean according to the Mosaic law and was shunned by her family and friends as if she was a leper. Her father had hired many doctors to heal her, spending his fortune, but it was no use. She was not only an outcast of society, but chronically weak and her cheeks were pale from loss of blood. She was now 24 years old, and for the last 12 years had lived a life of misery …
Miriam finally reached the crowd. Oh, how she longed to be identified as a disciple of Yeshua Jesus. She recalled something long ago, from her childhood travels with her father. She had learned that in the Ancient Near East, the corner of a person’s garment represented his identity; it was a symbol of who he was and what he stood for. She remembered her father’s words… “That’s why Ruth, when she was seeking marriage to Boaz, asked him to spread the corner of his garment over her.” (Ruth 3:9). How Miriam longed to be identified with Yeshua Jesus… If only she could touch His hem!
Mariam struggled towards the tall, robed figure at the head of the crowd, her hand outstretched. Suddenly, she was jostled forward by the crowd and she stumbled towards Him, falling at His feet … and SHE TOUCHED THE HEM OF HIS ROBE!
– Immediately, her blood flow stopped. Yeshua said, “Who touched Me?” When everyone denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding You and pressing in!” But Yeshua said, “Someone touched Me, for I recognized power going out from Me.” Then seeing that she did not escape notice, the woman came trembling and fell prostrate before Him. In the presence of all the people, she confessed why she had touched Him and how she had been healed immediately. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” – Luke 8:44-48
Tears flowed down Miriam’s pink and radiant cheeks and she knelt before her Savior. For, at long last, she was His disciple. And she was healed. ❤️
Inside out – John 4 ✝️
Camilla visited Jacob’s well nearly every day. She had met many travelers there, some of them wealthy, a few of them handsome, and many of them more than willing to part with their silver for her female company. The other women had gotten their water for the day early in the morning. But Camilla waited nearby for another thirsty traveler who might be willing to part with his Shekels.
Her mother had named her after the legendary warrior maiden Camilla. Indeed, she was a fighter. Her life had not been an easy one. Born a Samaritan, she was considered a mixed-breed by both the Jews and Gentiles, whose prejudice ran deep. She frequently felt marginalized and dismissed. She was often ridiculed. She had endured rejection and shame in this life. She was searching for something more.
It was now noontime and the middle eastern sun bore down heavily on the weary traveler who stopped at the well. His name was Yeshua Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi. His disciples had gone into the nearby village to buy food for lunch. Jesus sat at the edge of Jacob’s well as Camilla approached with her water pot.
The Rabbi looked into her eyes. “Would you give me a drink of water?”, He asked. Camilla knew this game well. She had played it many times before.
“How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”, she retorted.
Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of Yahweh God and who I am, you would be asking ME for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water”.
At that she laughed to herself. This man would not be an easy Shekel. “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
The Rabbi again looked deeply into her eyes. “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. But anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.”
Suddenly, the game had changed and Camilla longed for something more meaningful than silver. “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty…”, she implored.
The Rabbi replied, with eyes that pierced her soul, “Go, get your husband and return.”
Camilla suddenly felt exposed. “I have no husband”, she countered.
The Rabbi reached into the depths of her being. “Yes, you are right. You’ve had five husbands, and the man you are living with now isn’t even your husband”, He said knowingly.
As the Rabbi spoke, a flash of shame rushed over Camilla. Jesus had crossed cultural, political, and religious chasms to reach the very depths of her heart. He had searched her from the inside out and reached her soul. He didn’t care that she was a Samaritan, a woman, an outcast. He saw her, rather, as He did every human – rich or poor, male or female, black or white. A sinner in need of redemption.
As Camilla opened her heart to Jesus, she was changed from the inside out by His beautiful, convicting and transforming words. Her long search had ended. Camilla had found what she was looking for.❤️