The Distinction Between Acknowledging Facts and Demonstrating Faith

Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.  For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2).

Now that admission sounds good, since it’s true, but it’s woefully inadequate.  Jesus proceeds to explain to Nicodemus how the latter must experience new birth in order to see the kingdom of God.  This means…Nicodemus knows things that may be true about Jesus (i.e. that Jesus is from God), but such knowledge does not necessarily flow from saving faith.

Christians are after more than just having others comprehend and acknowledge certain facts.  There’s a difference between knowing what is true and loving what is true.  There’s a difference between knowing what is true and joyfully embracing the implications of what is true.

Nicodemus’ admission does not proceed from saving faith.  After all, Moses and Elijah were prophets from God.  Nicodemus is probably not claiming anything more for Jesus than he would claim for Moses or Elijah.

The saddest thing that the reader discovers is that Nicodemus knows about Jesus’ signs while simultaneously failing to see where they are pointing.  He is not yet drawing the right conclusions about the signs.

The end of John’s Gospel records the purpose of the signs that Nicodemus is failing to comprehend: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

That’s what Nicodemus should do: he should believe in Jesus.  That’s what the signs were telling him.  That’s what the signs are telling you.


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