Philippians 3:10 – That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Bring raised in North Carolina, one hundred miles from the hometown of one of the world’s greatest athletes, I could claim to know Michael Jordan. Once, on a mission trip in India, two young men were assured that I was Michael Jordan and began chanting “Michael Jordan!” Not that we favor that much, but I laughed, waved, and said “No! No! Not Michael Jordan – too short and too old”. On another occasion, I was on a flight coming back from Chicago (coach class, of course, but dressed very nicely) and a young couple seated next to me couldn’t resist asking if I were “MJ”. Again, I smiled and said “Hmm, No, but I am from North Carolina!” I have videos of MJ’s days at UNC-Chapel Hill, his attempt at major league baseball, and every championship run. I knew his stats, his favorite moves, and even picked up a few skills of shooting free throws with my eyes closed! (Are you impressed, yet?) It is funny how being a fan can make one think he knows the person. I may know things about Michael Jordan, but I don’t know Michael Jordan and, furthermore, he does not know me!
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. He was a man of great reputation, but he was an admirer of Jesus. That was a dangerous combination in those days. It is understood that Nicodemus was a learned man in the scriptures. By age twelve he knew the first five books of the Bible. He could quote biblical prophecy verbatim and flawlessly. In other words, he knew the Messiah was coming, but did not know that he was in the presence of the Messiah. You see, Nicodemus knew scripture about Jesus, but he did not know Jesus. He knew religious protocol, but he did not know Jesus. To claim to know Jesus because you know scripture or protocol has no more validity than my claim to know Michael Jordan because I am a fan! Lots of Christians are fans, but not true followers of Christ.
To know Jesus means you have been challenged, changed, and willing to follow Him wherever He wants! To be a true follower of Jesus means that you come to know Him in suffering and pain. Let me put it to you this way: the difference in being a fan and true follower of Jesus is the difference between the chicken giving eggs and pig giving bacon for your breakfast. One is a donation; the other is a sacrifice. My wife and I know each other, not just because we have been married over 43 years, but because we have suffered through painful experiences together and seen the metal of character and commitment developed in our hearts and souls. Paul said that I might know Him! How do get to we know Him? It comes through having the experience of holding on to God when giving up is easier. It comes when you face your giants when turning and running is easier. It comes when you stand up for right when sitting quiet is safer. Bible history tells us that Nicodemus crossed that line and became a true follower of Christ and he paid the price of martyrdom.
I may never get to know “MJ”, but I do know Jesus and He knows me! And that is what really counts in this life!