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Sorry, We are Closed


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Everyone has had a time in their life where they wanted or needed something particular and had to go out of the way to get it. As you approach the store, just the place you need, you start to realize there is an issue. It seems too quiet. Hardly anyone is around. You begin to become distraught when you get close enough to see a handwritten sign on the door. It simply reads, ‘Sorry, we are closed.’

One night Jesus met with a leader of the religious group known as the Pharisees. This was the group that opposed Jesus to the point of dragging Him to the cross. They couldn’t stand what Jesus was doing and He was a threat to them. The threat He posed was not physical, but spiritual because the Pharisees had gone off course in their beliefs. They adhered strictly to the Law and taught others to do the same, but they began to stray from the true purpose of the Law. The Law was given to show the impossible standard they would have to uphold in order to be declared righteous before God. Knowing all would fail to reach that standard, God introduced a way in the Law to allow the people to temporary appease His Holiness through sacrifices. The Law was meant to show the peoples imperfection and need for a Messiah- the perfect and permanent sacrifice, and, as such, God designed the Law to be a shadow of His Son who was to come as the Messiah.

The Pharisees began to believe they could be made righteous through their own effort in adhering to the Law and this led to their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. Their problem was that their minds were closed to the truth. They had become so ingrained in their faulty belief that they allowed no room for the idea they were wrong. This is evident in that covert conversation between that religious ruler, Nicodemus, and Jesus;

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:1-15

Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, but He finds that the ‘store is closed.’ Nicodemus never gets on the same page as Jesus because Nicodemus can’t fathom that Jesus is the Messiah. It is hard for him to get the spiritual implications of what Jesus is saying and he thinks in only physical terms to the point he sounds rather silly talking about being old and going back into his mother's womb. The problem with Nicodemus is that his mind was made up- he would make his own way to Heaven. For Nicodemus and the Pharisees they had lost sight of how the Law foreshadowed the Messiah, even after Jesus reminds Nicodemus of the time when Moses had to lift a bronze snake up so all who looked at it could be saved from a deadly disease. That event foreshadowed Jesus being lifted on a cross to save all who looked in faith to Him. But, sadly, the man who knew that story and all of the places God spoke of the Messiah, didn’t get it.

It is difficult for anyone to believe in something they don’t believe they need. Too often, when we make up our minds and hold on deeply to our convictions, we fail to see the truth, even if it is in our face. Jesus, the Messiah, sat inches from Nicodemus and yet he didn’t see Him because his closed mind blinded him to the truth. A closed mind is dangerous, very dangerous.

I see this all around today. People grow up being taught something that is almost true, but not totally true. They listen to pastors teach that same, slightly altered (or worse) truth and their convictions grow stronger. They get to the point where they hang that sign up, ‘sorry, my mind is closed’ and they stop searching. Even if the truth hits them in the face, they don’t see it because they aren’t ready for it. Nicodemus and his Pharisee friends didn’t recognize Jesus because they were not ready.

So, what is the answer? It is simply to always keep an open mind. Unfortunately, that term now implies being open to believing or doing anything, but that is not what we are speaking of. No, we must have an open mind to one thing, and one thing only- the truth. We should always be asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth. We must always be willing to have our convictions challenged to assure we, indeed, have the correct convictions. When we have an open mind, we may be led to realize we have been off course and the Holy Spirit will take all who are willing and put them back on course. But He can’t do it if we keep our minds closed to the truth.

It seems easy and makes perfect sense to say we should always be open to the truth, but it isn’t as easy as it seems. Tomorrow, we will discuss what kept the Pharisees from having an open mind and see that this is the root problem with so many today. Keep an open mind, you might feel the Holy Spirit convict you of this very issue.

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