Nicodemus Seeks Out Jesus Late at Night John 3:1-20
I move quickly along the dark streets staying in the shadows and dodging out of sight as soon as I hear voices approaching, for the last thing I need was to explain to the Sanhedrin why I was conversing with Jesus who they thought was an antagonist. My mind is racing with anticipation of this clandestine meeting. Surely he is from God, for no man can heal people unless God has anointed him. Yes, yes, he has insulted the Pharisees and shamed our rules and toppled the market tables in the Temple's courtyard, but deep down, haven't I been too busy to care what some of the injustices and sinful practices were around the Temple! I am one man- can one man really make a difference to the way things are?! Hmmmm...Well....this man intends to ....it is like he was cleansing the Temple and purging the dishonesty. Who is this brave man? I have got to know more...I want to know more...God help me!
I wonder how he will receive me; will he be curt and authoritatively denounce me.... my servant said he was very gracious and welcomed my request with a warm smile and a gentle demeanor. I know he speaks all day to crowds and must be tired, yet without a second thought, he told my servant tonight or any night I would be welcomed. Welcomed?
"God please- lead me with your wisdom, meet my inquiries - see my heart to know your truth- don't allow me to be blinded with pride- give me discernment - give me answers that I seek-show me the path of your will- lead me in understanding- allow this servant to learn your will." ....on and on I prepare my steps and heart with prayer stealthily moving to the meeting spot.
Coming to the directed home, I easily find the outer wall staircase that leads to the upper roof. Cresting the top stair, I see Jesus rise to meet me with outstretched arms and a warm inviting smile. This is unexpected to be received with such care- doesn't he hate the Pharisees?
After thanking him for receiving me privately, he leads me to sit and gives me his full respect. It is I who am the student not the teacher at this moment. I begin, "Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miracles are proof enough of this."
Jesus replies looking into my eyes fully attending to my presence, "With all the earnestness I possess, I tell you this: unless you are born again, you can never get into the Kingdom of God."
Confused, I press," Born Again?! What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"
Jesus leans forward to be very clear, "I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Still trying to keep up with his words and branding them into my brain, I continue, "How can this be?"
"You are Israel's teacher and you do not understand these things? I tell you the truth of what I know, and testify to what I have seen, but still you do not accept my testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" He pauses a moment, and looks me straight in the eyes as to give me great insight, "No one has ever gone into heaven- except the one who came from heaven-the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
Hanging on every word and storing it in the files of my mind, I listen intently as Jesus continues, " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
My heart was growing and bursting as I knew that I was in the presence of the Son of God and he cared to be with me. I felt a supernatural presence of peace and truth embracing me, and I knew that this moment my allegiance to protect this man and to understand his teachings will be my life set goal. My heart is tugged with thoughts of telling my family, and all I have is at risk for following Jesus. It is certain expulsion from the prestigious Pharisees. Jesus looks at me with compassion as if he knows my thoughts, and I am sure he does. Do I please man or God? Who is my heart's allegiance to ...before we could speak more, a crowd of voices drew near. His disciples are approaching, and it is best for me to leave and give them rest. I am deeply touched and changed from one personal meeting with Jesus. He takes hold of my hands together in a warm and secure grip that gives me great strength. He mentions the purity of my heart, and acknowledges the strength and goodness he sees within me and mentions that my faith will bring me great peace and joy. I slip away down the steps and seem to be almost floating without a care of who will see me, for I have met the Messiah- the savior of my soul.
Questions for Reflection:
We too can find ourselves in a place where we need to decide are we pleasing man or God?
Nicodemus took a risk- his work, his income, his lifestyle, possibly his family were put aside to seek after a personal examination of Jesus. We know from scripture that Nicodemus' faith in Jesus grew for he stood up for him in front of a counsel of Pharisees six months before the crucifixion (John 7:51), and he was one of the two people that took Jesus' body down from the cross and wrapped it with expensive myrrh, aloes and linens. At that point, he no longer hid his allegiance to the Messiah. He walked now in the light, not in the shadows.
How well do you walk in the Light; do you hide your faith and keep it a secret?
It is not surprising and in fact perfectly fitting that this event is recorded in the Gospel of John. For John is the disciple who threads a theme 'Jesus's love is for all' throughout his Gospel.
Once again John shares an event where Jesus is meeting and receiving a person you would have thought he would have avoided. The two are diametrically opposed to one another. The Pharisees wanted to get rid of Jesus, for he called them hypocrites who honor God with their mouths and not their hearts. The idea of leaders being servants was abhorrent. Jesus was turning the crowd against their authority and this infuriated them. The Pharisees were religious leaders in the Sanhedrin that had added 600 plus oral traditions to the Jewish Torah. They treated their traditions like it was the Word of God. Jesus tells them in Mark 7:7, "Their teachings are merely human rules" and their rules superseded the welfare of people. An important lesson here is that Jesus has come seeking to be a savior for all who desire to meet him personally. Other Pharisees eventually turned their hearts too; two notable ones are Joseph of Arimathea (the rich man whose tomb Jesus was laid) and Paul who wrote most of the New Testament. In Acts 15: 5 mentions more Pharisees as well. The Gospels record Jesus' care to meet people who were shunned: the Samaritan woman, an adulterous woman, a prostitute, tax collectors and even the thief who mocked him while on the cross next to him...Jesus' love and care was extended to everyone. Judas was no exception.
Nicodemus came to Jesus personally. He didn't get persuaded to believe the general opinion of his friends, but decided to search out Jesus for himself. Your inherited "faith" needs to be made your own. Jesus mentions 'with all earnestness I tell you, you must be born again or you will not enter the kingdom of God.' The command " You must " is nowhere else in his teachings. When questioned about 'born again', he stated clearly that everyone is born once in the flesh, but they must also be born of the Spirit. The Spirit within is awakened to the deep love of God and is a "covering". In 1Corinthians 15:50- the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.... For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
When a person reaches an age to understand what faith in God is, they are to make it their 'own faith' by praying to God for forgiveness of their sins and to accept Jesus' work on the cross to cover their sin- a savior for their souls.
An amazing statement Jesus gave to Nicodemus that night was the comparison of Moses lifting up the snake in the book of Exodus and the prophecy of "The Son of Man being lifted up" for all who believe in him will have eternal life. No one can predict how they will die in the future unless you are God. Jesus was lifted up onto a pole -the cross- for all who look upon his work that day and believe are saved. Just like Moses placing a bronze snake, a symbol of sin, onto a pole, and everyone who looked upon that snake was saved from the plague that was brought upon them from the Israelites' sinful rebellion. Why did Jesus have to represent sin? To explain this - it begins with understanding judgement against sin and evil must be dealt with for justice. But, the price to pay to be redeemed from death and destruction - (sinfulness) is the extremely HIGH cost of death of innocent blood as a covering. Jesus took on the wrath of mankind and his blood covers all who look to him. He was the lamb sacrificed on Passover that Friday. Could any man orchestrate the day of his death to fall on Passover? God did with Jesus' full consent. God gave a piece of himself up for us that day for the love of mankind. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one yet three. Great is the love of a God who desires to help the lost.
Like Nicodemus you may be in the dark with who he really is, but after meeting him personally, you will walk away enlightened and loved.
Psalm 119:105 Your Word is a lamp onto my feet and a light onto my path, Oh Lord
As the account is recorded in the Bible: