Nicodemus came to Jesus because he wanted to talk with someone who had been sent by God and who was on intimate terms with God, a safe spiritual guide. Though the Pharisees were well educated and were considered spiritual leaders, he turned from them to this humble Galilean, with the words, "We know that thou art a teacher come from God." He had confidence in Jesus. Though it was humbling to do so, Nicodemus sought out the Master to talk with Him about religion, the field in which Nicodemus himself was supposed to be eminently qualified. Even though he came by night, it took real effort on his part to come. This proud intellectual experienced a heart hunger that cold facts and formalism had never satisfied. What he needed was warm assurance. In this he was much like the rich young man of Matthew 19 who, with all of his wealth and works and profession of religion, had not obtained that for which every soul longs—peace and assurance.
It is doubtful that heavy advertising would have drawn either of these two men to Jesus with their penetrating questions. Others might have responded to a public campaign, might have come out of curiosity to hear something new. But Nicodemus and the rich young ruler might not have been among them. Nicodemus came because he was convinced, in spite of all criticism to the contrary, that here was someone on intimate terms with God, someone who was a safe spiritual guide. Believing this, he overcame all his prejudice so that he might speak with this one.
This fact should stir us as workers. The outstanding impression that our lives and ministry give, must be that we are, first of all, men come from God, and that we are in constant touch with Him. All our actions, our lives, even to the smallest details, must convince people of this. It is no compliment to a preacher to have it said of him, "He is an able preacher but I want no dealings with him." It is not success when the preacher gives the impression that the things he says are good and true but that he himself is far out of line with his preaching. Nor is it helpful to have the reputation of being a humorist—a funny, frivolous man. No one comes to such preachers with their burdens of heart. Men like that are not sought out for spiritual guidance. Such a man may enjoy a certain popularity, but he does not have the deep confidence of the people that he is a man "come from God." "I will talk with Him," Nicodemus said in his heart, "because He is a teacher come from God." How fortunate for himself and the early church that he did!
Theodore Roosevelt, in conversation with a friend, urged him to attend church. The friend demurred, saying that the preaching was not much, the sermons did not impress him greatly. The ex-President replied, "You may not hear a great sermon, but you will probably hear a good man." Few of us will ever be known as great preachers, but all of us should be known as good men, men come from God.
The finest and most enduring remark that can be made about a preacher is that he is a good man. Sermons, eloquent and powerful, are soon forgotten. About all people ever remember is that the sermons were wonderful, but in what way they seldom recall. The memory of a good life lives on. It is not forgotten. Abel was such a representative for God, and the record says of him, "He being dead yet speaketh." May our lives also continue to speak of intimate relationship with God and faithfulness to our charge long after we have been transferred to other assignments or, if that be our lot, laid away to rest briefly until the resurrection hour.