Today we see how the grace of God affected two very good people. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were by all accounts people we would want to be around. They were decent folks who wanted to be right with God. They tried hard to do the right thing for the right reasons. But they had one flaw that was prevalent in their day, as well as it is today. They thought religion was the answer to all their problems. But to them, religion was more about a list of what we do and don’t do. It had not become clear to them yet that what God wants for us is a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus opposed those who loved their religion more than their Lord.
Max Lucado writes: “Joseph and Nicodemus were tired of it. They had seen it for themselves. They had seen the list of rules and regulations. They had watched the people tremble with unbearable burdens. They had heard the hours of senseless wrangling over legalistic details. They had worn their robes and sat at the places of honor and seen the word of God made void. They had seen religion become the crutch that cripples, and they wanted out.” Our text shows Joe & Nic being transformed form reluctant to radical followers of Christ.
Galatians 5:6 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” We need to ask ourselves if your relationship with God is about following the rules, or about faith expressing itself in love.
By becoming aware of God’s amazing grace to all of us, by understanding the significance of sending Christ to redeem us, Nicodemus and Joseph broke past the rules that never led to fulfillment in their souls and served their Lord from the depths of their faith and love. We could stand to learn from them.