Nasrudin of Turkey was not one of those who runs out of tricks up his sleeves. He was not the kind of man you would be bored hanging around with. His idiocy coupled with absurdity were the two powerful ingredients that made comrades’ ribs crack. He embodied the highest pinnacle of imbecility and sheepishness.
His type of lunacy was not like that of David in Gath (1st Samuel 21:13). For David practiced infantile tricks as a form of self-defense. David was the market madman with a purpose. But Nasrudin was a madman with no purpose.
One day Nasrudin was hanging a painting in his room when he inadvertently hammered the nail too hard to result in a yawning hole in the wall. He was hypnotized with this happening that he started to stare through the hole. As he did this, with vigor, he noticed goats grazing on the other side of the wall. Surprisingly he did not realize that the goats belonged to his neighbor. He then ran quickly to his wife and exclaimed, “Wife, you are not going to believe this! Guess what!” He continues, “My hammer went through the wall and I discovered another universe across my room. It is a universe of goats!”
An argument ensued between him and his wife. Nasrudin earnestly tried to convince his wife of the existence of another universe with goats only. While his wife disputed it vehemently.
Finally, Nasrudin got irritated and went out to see his Master Erdogan. He was Erdogan’s coachman. As he walked out of his house, he saw his neighbor’s goats grazing. He did not consider it, for had been won over by his mind.
This reminds me of a day when I was traveling in a matatu (public service van) from Nyeri to Nairobi. There were little children in the matatu with their mother. They were jovial throughout the journey and kept talking and singing in alternation. When we arrived at the place called Makuyu, they exclaimed, albeit innocently, “Wow, an ocean!” I immediately cast my glance outside peradventure I would see the vast blue ocean only to be met with sight of a beautiful dam.
The Nocturnal Nicodemus
Nicodemus was a highly educated man in matters of the Law and the Prophets. He was a scholar of the Old Testament. He was also a member of the Jewish Ruling Council – the Sanhedrin. Tannaitic sources describe it as consisting of 71 sages. It was so powerful a body that any scholar who went against its decision was put to death. It was the final authority in matters of Jewish Law. However, by the time Jesus was crucified, the Sanhedrin had lost its authority to exact capital punishment.
This simple explanation helps us to build a picture of Nicodemus. We can somehow draw his curriculum vitae. It was a glamorous, amorous, glorious and glowing CV.
In the Gospel of John 3:1-21, we encounter this highly placed Jewish scholar dialoguing with Jesus.
Despite his badges, Nicodemus was yet to decode the workings of God. He understood things carnally. He interpreted things carnally. He practiced things carnally. He needed a fellowship with Yahweh to help him grasp the concepts. A meeting with Jesus would do.
He had a relationship with God, but he lacked fellowship with Him. He began to understand things the moment he entered into fellowship with Jesus.
Nicodemus was not like Nasrudin who refused to examine the points advanced by his wife. He did not hold onto his past propensities and predispositions. He came with an open heart: To learn.
What do we learn from Nicodemus story?
- Relationship with God will not unlock His treasures of wisdom and knowledge but Fellowship will do.
We have an identity with God. We are related to Him. We bore His image. We carry out his teachings religiously. That is a relationship with God. But it is not enough. What we need is a fellowship with Him. Hebrews 6:4-6 is a proof that being religious amount to nothing. Professing is not equal to possession.
- Advancement in secular knowledge is not equal to advancement in spiritual knowledge.
Nicodemus was a man of acclaimed scholarship. But this did not translate into spiritual knowledge and wisdom. It is good to increase our secular knowledge but it is better to increase our spiritual knowledge.
- Time should not be a limitation to our fellowship with Master Jesus.
Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. He refused to be limited by time. Jesus accepted Him at that time. He did not criticize him for coming at night, but instead taught him the things of heaven. We have the privilege of coming to Jesus at any time; Morning, Noon, Evening.
- The crowd should not be a stoppage between Jesus and us.
Nicodemus feared to come to Jesus at daytime lest he reaps derision, disdain, and derogation. Most of the time we don’t make it to Jesus, we don’t have fellowship with Him due to our cold feet. We fear what our friends, relatives, and acquaintances will say. Have you discovered that people will always talk about you whether you go with them or you go alone! Why should you fear their disparagement? The crowd will stop you from receiving Jesus’ revelation.
- Come to Jesus acknowledging His Lordship
Nicodemus came to Jesus and the first statement was an acknowledgment of who Jesus was. He rendered his honor, reverence, and worship to Him as he sat down to listen. Do you want to understand God’s ways clearer and better? Then follow Nicodemus example: Start with worship. It does not cost anything to sit at the feet of Jesus.
- Learning is a continuous process.
Learning is like a treadmill: In reality, it never ends. We can purpose to continue knowing Him. Every day is an opportunity to learn something.
Do not lock your mind in the dingy dungeon of ignorance.
What else can we learn from Nicodemus dear friend?