June 1, 2015

John 3:1-2a Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night

You may have heard of this story involving Nicodemus. It is the one where Jesus tells him that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” You may not know that Nicodemus makes two other appearances in John’s gospel. In 7:50-51 we read how he responds to his fellow Pharisees; “Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, ‘Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?’” In the first encounter in chapter 3 John makes a point that Nicodemus comes at night, under the cover of darkness as we might say. Jesus was controversial, still is, and Nicodemus, while curious was also cautious. In this second one from chapter 7 he is willing to tentatively question his colleagues in their desire to silence Jesus using force if necessary. But wait, there’s more. Guess who shows up to help take Jesus off the cross at the end of John’s gospel? We read in 19:38-39, “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.” The other gospels don’t tell of these episodes involving Nicodemus, but John does. Does he want us to see how one man moved from curious to openly questioning to committed? I think maybe he does. Maybe he is showing us one example of a man “born again.” Maybe he wants us to ask ourselves where we are in this continuum. Maybe this week you should ask yourself just that.

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