I'll never look at the midnight interview with Nicodemus in quite the same way again. After reading how Jesus confronted Nicodemus and implicated him as an unbeliever (this was clear to Nicodemus) I realize that Jesus didn't pull any punches. Instead, He deliberately stepped on Nicodemus' toes.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you eartly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
John MacArthur writes,
"To post-modernized ears, that sounds extraordinarily harsh. Contemporary evangelicals typically bristle at the thought of challenging anyone's profession of faith. Religious television networks are overrun with teachers who profess to be Chrsitians but whose doctrine and lifestyle show no real fruit of salvation. People like that have flourished and even begun to dominate the non-Christian public's perception of what Christianity is, mainly because more sound and solid evangelical leaders are reluctant to call them by name and say plainly that they are charlatans and false teachers. To oppose another minister publicly just doesn't seem "nice." The thought of being perceived as harsh or negative is more odious to some Christians than actually being undiscerning. So false teachers are given free reign to promote their false teachings and flaunt their extravagant lifestyles."
But Jesus effectively said to Nicodemus, "You don't know what you are talking about! You ought not to be sitting on your high horse in the place of Moses - Instead you should be placing yourself with the sinning Israelites who needed to look at the serpent to live! "
Nicodemus needed to recognize his spiritual poverty and see his need for a Saviour. He may have been a Pharisee with the honour and respect of his fellow Jews, but his situation was desperate. Jesus ended His discourse with Nicodemus by bringing the emphasis right back to the problem of human depravity.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Jesus gave Nicodemus a smack-down because He cared more for the truth than He cared how Nicodemus felt about it.
We, too, should be telling the truth. We ought to care more for the truth than caring more about how the people we love feel about the truth.
We know that Nicodemus was eventually drawn to the True Light and became a genuine believer. He and Joseph of Arimathea prepared the Saviour's body for burial - an act that could have cost him everything.
Jesus wasn 't NICE to Nicodemus. He told him the truth.
John MacArthur writes,
Jesus knew something evangelicals today often forget: Truth doesn't defeat error by waging a public relations campaign. The struggle between truth and error is spiritual warfare, and truth has no way to defeat falsehood except by exposing and refuting lies and false teaching. That calls for candour and clarity, boldness and precision -- and sometimes more severity than congeniality.