This coming Tuesday, America will elect the President, Vice President, and members of the US House of Representatives. I hope that you will go to the polls this Tuesday and cast your vote. We pray for wisdom to know who to trust in places of leadership, because it can be terribly difficult to know where to place your confidence. I’ve heard some people talking about putting “Jesus” as a write-in candidate, as a way of protesting the two major candidates. I hope you won’t do that. I hope you’ll make your vote count. Jesus isn’t on the ballot for President of the United States (thank God)! But even though He’s not a candidate in our election, I want to look at three criteria that Nicodemus uses, to figure out if he can trust Jesus as his Messiah and pin his hopes on this Savior.
1. The Track Record. In the second chapter of John’s gospel, many people begin trusting Jesus because of His track record—the miraculous things he performs. While I dare say that none of our candidates are performing miraculous signs, perhaps it’s best to look at the “fruit of their ministries,” so to speak, to see who you can trust. In the Gospel of John, a respected member of the Jewish ruling council named Nicodemus seeks an interview with Jesus to find out if he can trust Him. “’Rabbi,’ he said, ‘we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you (John 3:2[i]).’” The word that is translated “signs” means something that bears witness to the glory of God. In John’s gospel, Jesus doesn’t perform “miracles,” but “signs” that all point to spiritual truth. They are proofs of who he is. Just as Nicodemus can begin to trust Jesus because of the things He does, so we can look at candidates and decide who to trust, based on their actions. Do the actions of your candidate reflect a Christlike character? Or—are their actions the complete opposite of the way Jesus would be?
2. The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth. Nicodemus learns to trust Jesus by the things He says. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).” Nicodemus is trying to see if he can trust Jesus. First he weighs the evidence of Jesus’ deeds, and now he listens carefully to Jesus’ message to see if there he can find truth. Jesus talks about the kind of God Nicodemus already believes in—a God who doesn’t want to condemn the world, but who loves the world and wants to save it. This goes a long way in helping Nicodemus make a choice. As we evaluate candidates prior to the election, we need to pay close attention to the things that they say, whether they resonate with truth or not. Are they saying the kinds of things that you can believe?
3. Promises, Promises. In verses 14-15, Jesus says, “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” Jesus is referring to a time in Israel’s history when the people were bitten by poisonous snakes. God directed Moses to make a metal snake and lift it up on a pole so that everyone who looked at it would be miraculously saved. Jesus said that in the future He would be lifted up on a pole (the crucifixion), so that anyone who looked to Him in faith might be saved. This is quite a promise! Political candidates promise all sorts of things, but I’ve never heard any of them promising to lay down their lives to serve the country. Jesus promises to embrace the cross to save the world. This is a promise that Nicodemus can’t ignore. Neither can we ignore the promises candidates make as they tell us what they plan to do if chosen to lead our country.
The country has a choice to make in a couple of days. A lot rides on this important decision, so I hope you’ll take the time to go to the polls. It’s a tough choice, but we have to decide who we can trust to govern our country. Yet, no matter who wins, only Jesus deserves our trust when it comes to governing our hearts. Politicians can transform laws and societies, but only Jesus can make us new again. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God… I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of [womb] water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life (John 3:5b-6).” Jesus is talking about a spiritual renewal that can only be understood in terms of a total do-over. Jesus is talking about a move of the Holy Spirit can make you so different it’s like you’re a whole new person. No politician can do that for you. Only Jesus can affect that kind of change. So, we come to the question—who to trust? Psalm 118:9 answers the question for us: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” On November 8, we will go to the polls…and some of us will end up casting a vote for someone we don’t like or we don’t trust. Remember to look at their track record, listen for truth in what they’re saying, and consider what they say they’ll do. But remember this too—only Jesus has the power to transform the soul, to give you a divine do-over, to make you born again.