“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews…”(John 3:1)

This is one of my favourite verses in the whole Bible. Let me tell you why. Remember, these words, although penned by John, were actually penned by the Holy Spirit through him. Certainly John wrote them, but so did the Lord. And the wording tells us something very wonderful about how He thinks and sees things. Notice that it doesn’t merely read, “There was a Pharisee…” Or even, “There was a Pharisee called Nicodemus…” No! It reads, “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus…”

Do you see the point? Do you get what’s happening here? Can you see the sheer individual personableness of it? Jesus doesn’t look on this guy as just someone else who wants to talk with Him. Nicodemus isn’t just another Pharisee with some questions. No! To Jesus Nicodemus is a unique individual human being. Not just another person, and certainly not just another Pharisee. He is Nicodemus! An individual! A specific, particular and completely unique, unrepeatable walking-talking, living-breathing man…called Nicodemus!

It’s so easy to just see folk as just a collective societal grouping, rather than the actual individual each of them are. There are no blurred faces in bustling crowds as far as the Lord is concerned. No anonymous faceless men, women and children – mere social security numbers in the modern day corporate culture of western impersonality. No! There are only individuals to Him, each created quite knowingly, particularly and specifically by Him, each face and name having been called individually to mind as He suffered on the cross for each and every one.

There are, of course, those Christians of a Reformed bent who don’t believe He died for everyone, and although I don’t share that view from scripture, I do at least understand why someone might. But the alternate view, that He died for all, can, if we are not very careful, equally mislead us. I most fully believe that Jesus died for each and every human being throughout history, but I don’t for one moment also think that this suggests that He died for everyone-in-general-and-nobody-in-particular! Do you see the point? It has then become completely impersonal; as if the Lord suffered and died for the corporate collective human conglomerate, as opposed to suffering and dying for you, for I, and for the little girl who lives next door, and the construction worker down the road, and that chap who fixed that leaking pipe in the kitchen last year…..

Let us make sure that we have this as clear in our minds as anything could possibly be: the Lord Jesus Christ did not die for everyone-in-general-and-nobody-in-particular! He suffered and died with your name on His lips, and – oh happy day – with my name on His lips, and Belinda’s name, and Bethany’s name, and that little girl’s name next door whom I just mentioned……and that construction worker…..and…..and……..!!!

We should never think of people as just being people. You can’t love a crowd, or have compassion on some corporate conglomeration of humanity, and just leave it at that. It must boil down to showing compassion in real terms, to giving actual and practical help to those individuals who comprise that crowd. Individuals who need to be loved one by one, each in turn, according to their particular and specific needs.

It is sad beyond words that Christians have, historically, embraced the completely unbiblical practise of having numerically large churches, as opposed to the numerically small house-based churches we see in the New Testament, thereby adding to this very impersonality which the Lord so dislikes in human experience. The impersonality of a crowd can, sadly, feel safer to people! You can hide in a crowd! You can keep your head down in a crowd when things are tough and when difficult stands need to be taken. Moreover, you can keep the sin in your life, but which the Lord wants to deal with, nicely hidden away, and keep living a hypocritical double standard without anyone really knowing that you are not at all, in day-to-day life, the person you present yourself as being to that impersonal crowd (they came them congregations) in church on Sundays.

But of course the price you then pay is the loss of being able to truly love, or to be truly loved by, those around you. In such a scenario of the church crowd (congregation) no-one really knows anyone else well enough to even make a significant start at loving them, let alone see that love through to the end with them. Little groups here and there will make attachments with each other, of course, but then what of those who get left out? What about the ones whose loneliness and pain cuts all the more deeply precisely because they are alone whilst surrounded by so many others?

Whenever you meet someone, whether for the first or thousandth time, whether a fellow Christian or convinced atheist, whether a Muslim or Buddhist, whether a Capitalist or Marxist…..whether gay, straight, bi-……perhaps even a Democrat or Republican, make sure you look them square and fully in the eye knowing that the one looking back at you is a unique, one-and-only, unrepeatable, one-off human being, created specifically and intentionally by the Lord to not be anybody else, the mould having been completely discarded the moment He was done creating them. Indeed, someone precisely whose name was on His lips as He suffered and died for them.

There is, ultimately, and meaningfully, no such thing as corporate humanity; just innumerable unique particular and specific individual human beings, created in the image of God, all of whom being in almost indescribable need of love, compassion, friendship, repentance and salvation! And that need for love, the love of God lived out through the lives of His people, is why Christians should be the kindest, friendliest, most helpful, personable and easy-to-get-on-with people anyone could ever meet.




5 thoughts on ““There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews…”(John 3:1)

  1. If one were willing to take an honest look at how truly awfully the religious institutionalized paradigm fails to actually bring about God’s desire both individually and corporately, every real Christian would head for the hills for greener pastures (those through which God Himself both creates and nourishes).

    It’s difficult to comprehend how any Christian can base their life upon what they desire in complete contrast to what God commands for us. Where does “what I want” or “what I like” have to do with Biblical Christianity? What do these have to do with those who have lost their lives, their rights and who no longer live for themselves? Are we so blind to have forgotten these truths?

    Regardless of what the majority wrongly supports and endorses, I’m choosing to walk the narrow road with few and fewer people. I just can’t trade my self motivated and self serving desires (even spiritual ones) for the greater good of sharing life and living out real intimacy with my fellow human beings.

    It’s a wonderful reminder to picture just how our Father views His individual creations- if the sun, sky, moon etc were filled with His glory and deemed to be good, “How much more is the potential of a renewed soul in bringing about what He really desires this side of paradise.

    It’s sad Beresford, just how few grapple and even note the marvelous promises of God in our Bibles due to sheer unbelief! Sad, and yet our Father still proclaims that He looks to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

    May you, may I, may a few more, be that man!


  2. Good one, Beresford – all three you wrote recently were good reads. I finally just got around to reading all of them 🙂

    It was great seeing you all this weekend. I look forward to the next visit. Thanks again for the hospitality on Saturday especially!

    Give my love to Bethany and Belinda.


    *Daniel Wampler* *General Manager* (585) 319-4683 dan@simplifiedsafety.com

    Serving People, Simplifying Projects *www.simplifiedsafety.com *


    • Thanks for the kind words. I trust the meeting today goes well and that you have good trip back t the States. It’s been great having you here agin, albeit all too briefly. Love to Julie and the kids.


  3. Greetings, Beresford, in Jesus’ name,

    I have enjoyed and feel well fed by your recent posts. Sadly I am fed up with being trapped in the Groundhog Day of Sunday morning 10am auditorium lectures. I would drop this immediately if my wife felt the same, but she enjoys getting dressed up and ‘going to Church’. How can I change this mind set when I agree with her that our house is not big enough even to host a small group?


    Sent from Windows Mail


    • Thanks for your kind comments. Goodness, I really have no idea what you can do about your situation. I feel for you. I guess all we can do is play the hand the Lord has dealt us. In the meantime all you can do is pray that the Lord brings about some changes. I wish I could help more. Please feel free to keep in touch though.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s