“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” (John 3:10)
Throughout the Scriptures, we can see that one of the principles of living the Christian life is to make measurable progress in reasonable time. In other words, we are to be growing up in our faith, which is exactly what Nicodemus was not doing in the eyes of Jesus. Here was an expert in the Law who did not grasp the true meaning of what he had been studying all his life! As a serious student of the Scriptures, Nicodemus was not making reasonable progress in reasonable time, and Jesus rebuked him for it.
The apostle Paul offered a similar admonishment to the church at Corinth:
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Nicodemus seemed to understand the elementary, earthly things of the Old Testament Scriptures, but not their heavenly, spiritual implications. He had probably memorized much of the Hebrew Bible and so knew the letter of the Law. But Nicodemus could not comprehend the spirit of the Law, because he had never looked below the surface. Even a cursory reading of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount shows us what it means to understand God’s Word at the deepest possible level, a level that raises us far above the letter all the way to the feet of our Lord.
The letter to the Hebrews encourages us to “move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1). This is the goal of every disciple of Jesus; we must move beyond milk to meat and grow up into Christ. When Jesus was teaching about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees, He asked His disciples, “Do you still not understand?” Much like Nicodemus, their understanding was rooted in the physical and temporal, not the spiritual and eternal.
To be a Nicodemus is as unacceptable as it is inexcusable. We have been given the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, but we cannot and will not be guided if we do not spend time in the Scriptures. To be sure, the Word of God is living and active, but it serves us not if we do not pick it up and spend time in it daily.
Are you growing up in your understanding of your faith? If you are using the means of grace God has given you (Bible study, prayer, worship, communion of the saints), your answer will be a resounding yes. If it is no, you I hope today’s message will encourage you to change . . . and Jesus has given you everything you need to make that change happen.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!