John 3:1 – 3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
If the book of John were a movie, this scene would be one of the most compelling. The scene actually starts at the temple, when Jesus threw the dishonest, cheating, swindling sales people out. Then, the temple police force descended on Jesus, along with the temple officials. They were a little concerned about the loss of income that came from the taxes of those cheating salesmen. But remember, they never accused Jesus of being wrong. And one of those men – a Pharisee named Nicodemus, took note of this man, Jesus.
The Pharisees represented the middle class. They were the strict, law-keeping, “religious” common people of the day. They had the support of the masses, because they came from the masses. They were expecting a Messiah to come, and they had heard Jesus’ teaching, witnessed his miracles. They knew he was from God. But alas, they were looking for an earthly Messiah who would lead them to political greatness. They weren’t expecting a spiritual leader. When Jesus condemned them for being hypocrites, they quickly put Him on their black list.
The temple scene fades, and the screen becomes black. Nicodemus, under cover of darkness, looks over his shoulder before knocking on the door. “Jesus,” he whispers. “It’s Nicodemus. I’d like to talk to you.”
Jesus sits up, rubs his eyes, and says, “Come on in. I’m awake now.” Then, lighting a lantern, he probably says, “What can I do for you?”
Some people may criticize Nicodemus for being secretive. But I think he was a wise fellow. I think it’s good to figure things out in our minds, and do our research, before we announce our private issues to the world. But maybe that’s just me . . .
At any rate, Jesus welcomed Nick’s questions. He didn’t say, “Nicodemus, it’s the middle of the night! Why are you waking me up? Are you ashamed to be seen talking to me? Go away and come back another time.” Jesus never says that to anyone. He is always there, anytime, night or day, to talk to us.
Nicodemus was a reluctant follower. After all, he had a lot at stake. To choose Jesus, he would give up his family, his status in the community, his security and his importance. Everyone he knew would call him crazy, and turn their backs on him. It was a big decision.
Jesus was patient with Nicodemus. Nick asked, Jesus answered. Nick didn’t understand, Jesus explained. He didn’t demand an immediate decision. But He was available to Nicodemus, just as He is available to each of us.
Nicodemus didn’t make his decision right away. But we know he kept seeking, kept praying. In John 7:50, when the Pharisees were giving Jesus a hard time, Nicodemus boldly defended him. And just take a look at John 19:38 – 39! It seems that, in the end, Nick made the right choice.
Are you seeking God, my friend? As Jesus told Nicodemus, no one can see heaven unless they are born again. We have to be born spiritually, just as we are born physically. This signifies a fresh start with God, the moment we accept that Jesus is who He says He is. If you’re not ready to make that decision, that’s okay. Just keep seeking Him. Keep reading His Word. Keep asking questions. His answers may be difficult to understand, and they may not be what you want to hear. But He is there. He will listen. And He loves you with His very life.
Dear Father, Thank You for always being there, and for being patient with us.