When I first heard/read the story of Nicodemus I thought what a great story. Here is a Jewish leader who is willing to learn more about Jesus and “convert” to following Jesus. For a long time I just assumed that that is in fact what Nicodemus had done. He went to Jesus, heard him out and became a follower.
It wasn’t until some time later that I realized this was a story similar to the story of the rich young man who goes to Jesus and says, “What must I do to enter the kingdom, to follow you?” Jesus tells him to sell everything. The young man walks away. As he does, scripture tells us that Jesus was sad.
In both cases, Nicodemus and this young man, they could not follow Jesus, they were worried about the cost. For Nicodemus it would cost him his religion. For the rich young man, his wealth. Both thought they could follow from the fringes. Or, in other words, be a fan.
It is clear in both of these stories that Jesus is not offering fandom. He does not even elude that fandom is ok. He is very clear about his expectations for his followers. It is his way or the highway.
We can not call ourselves followers and not be willing to do exactly what Jesus ask of us. In a book I read last year, “Radical” it tells us that to be a true follower we respond yes to Jesus before Jesus even asks. Most of the time we mull it over for a few days, pray about it, talk to our friends, and then tell Jesus no (and we have excellent excuses). And we think that is OK!!!! Really, we think that is just fine. That Jesus is understanding and loving and kind and is sayin, “That’s ok Anne, I understand you have a lot of things going on.” “Anne, I know that you really want to have it another way, and I can go there with you.” “It’s ok to hurt someone else so you can be comfortable Anne.” Blah Blah Blah
Jesus never said that it is ok to be selfish, to put ourselves and our needs first. In fact Jesus said and lived out the opposite of that every day of his life and to his death on the cross. He never said it is ok to be an admirer and call yourself a follower. He was very blunt about what to do to call yourself a follower. You either are or you are not. When we walk away, Jeusu’ heart is saddened. You are or you are not. I am or I am not.
Forgive Jesus, for putting myself and my needs before yours. Forgive for thinking that I am that important!! Forgive for thinking I am god.