Nicodemus

Photo by Joel Mott on Unsplash

Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17

There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.” MSG

Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Congress and Supreme Court of Judah. The Sanhedrin had spies follow Jesus, they sent members to test Jesus, and eventually they put Jesus on trial. Yet, Nicodemus does not seem to be a part of that effort.

Bede, in the Eighth Century, had this to say. Nicodemus was one of the many who believed in Jesus, and therefore he came at night, and not during the day because he was not yet illumined with the gracious heavenly lightACCS John was fond of including just that kind of imagery; still being in the dark, Nicodemus approached Jesus in the dark.

Nicodemus alone approached Jesus when there were no crowds. This exchange has the appearance of a genuine wish to understand Jesus, not to try to trip him up. Yet, the phrase, we all know, suggests that others, perhaps many others, among the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin realized that Jesus was in some way connected to God.

What it suggests is that the Pharisees and Sadducees recognized Jesus as a great teacher and man of God, but his teachings upset their understanding of the world. They saw him as a threat to their comfortable positions. So, man of God or not, he had to stop the nonsense; only teach things they already believed.

Imagine Nicodemus returning home after this exchange, he has a new vision, perhaps a new understanding. I see him unable to sleep as he ponders Jesus’ words. I think he did all he could to keep up with Jesus and to better understand his teachings. We know that he saw Jesus on the cross and took upon himself the dangerous obligation of providing a grave for him. We learn nothing else about him in the NT, but I like to think he joined the followers at or after Pentecost.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right againMSG

Let us praise the Son first of all, venerating the blood that expiated our sins. He lost nothing of his divinity when he saved me, when like a good physician he stooped to my festering wounds. He was a mortal man, but he was also God. He was of the race of David abut Adam’s creator. He who has no body clothed himself with flesh. He had a mother who, nonetheless, was a virgin. He who is without bounds bound himself with the cords of our humanity. He was victim and high priest—yet he was God. He offered up his blood and cleansed the whole world. He was lifted up on the cross, but it was sin that was nailed to it. He became as one among the dead, but he rose from the dead, raising to life also many who had died before him. On the one hand, there is the poverty of his humanity; on the other, the riches of his divinity. Do not let what is human in the Son permit you wrongfully to detract from what is divine. For the sake of the divine, hold in the greatest honor the humanity, which the immortal Son took on himself for love of youACCS So wrote Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople in the Fourth Century.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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