Many in the day of Jesus believed in Him but because of the Pharisees were not ready to confess Him publicly, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. The Pharisees held an elite position of power, authority, and respect. They could make the rules, carry out sentencing, and show everyone how spiritual they were based upon their outward apparel and vigorous rituals. To be a Pharisee among the Jews was to be at the top of the pecking order.


Jesus was not bothered about influences of His society and constantly rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocrites and missing the essence of the call of a follower of God- love for God and love for our neighbours. Some of them did see their error and come to faith in Christ, yet because of appearances and the love of man’s approval, did not give up their positions. They knew that if they confessed their belief in Jesus publicly, they would be relieved of their positions in a public display of shame and ridicule, the opposite of pomp and fair they are used to. They would lose everything, be oppressed, struggle to find work, bring shame to the family name, and potentially endanger their own wellbeing as well as that of their own families. They would suffer the fate of the rich young ruler as scripture describes him. Some were not willing to give up all of the comfort, show, and “security” of the things of the world for the sake of Christ. Such a man as this was Nicodemus who was part of the Pharisee sect. He presents to us a greater invisible group who though believed in the teachings of Jesus, were not ready to announce to the public or afford to be seen with Him. Nicodemus would nicodemously sneak to Jesus at night and enjoy the approval of men than the approval of God.


In other words, it is either one or the other; you cannot serve two master. If we decide to follow God and love Him with all of our hearts, souls and minds, then we must recant our old self of allegiance and compromises in impressing men, trying to boost our own self-esteem through making earthly comparisons, and trying to achieve what only God can give us. It might be as simple as not wanting to be seen praying because of the ridicule other students or friends would bring. Loving man’s approval will ultimately make unclear the voice of God as He directs us in life. Gods counsel would constantly beg questions that would constantly seek to address whether men will be pleased with our decisions. A classic example would be God asking Hosea, a prophet to marry a prostitute. I am sure his class of prophets who serve the same God would disapprove of this decision. Maybe he really hadn’t heard from God would be their consolation.

Taking a cue from Isaiah who was asked to walk naked by God, we may understand that our God will never look to please us but Himself. His instructions may be odd but are certainly not wrong. Let us trust Him fully and allow His counsel to prevail rather than seek to please men.