John 3:1-21, Nicodemus
I like this guy, Nicodemus – he is a man after my own heart. He questions what he doesn’t understand, regardless of whether it makes him looks stupid. Yet it bothers me that Jesus seems impatient with Nicodemus; disappointed when Nick does not immediately understand his comments about being born from above. Maybe Jesus speaks with a sense of humor instead of shame when he says, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” I hope so because Jesus could just as easily be speaking to any of us.
There will always be much on our faith journeys that we may not understand, even when it shouldn’t be that difficult. Sometimes we have an Ah-Ha moment and things in the spiritual spectrum become clearer. But others times, we just don’t get it. The author of John’s gospel frequently uses the illusions of Light and Darkness to represent this spiritual phenomenon. People get it (light), then they don’t get it (darkness). It seems that Nicodemus emerges out of the dark, seeking light from the teacher he knows has been sent by God. But then a difficult question or concept comes up and wham, he seems to be sitting in the dark again. Been there, done that.
The good news is that we see Nicodemus more than once within the gospel of John. He appears here, asking questions and being confounded by the answers that Jesus gives. Then we see him again in chapter seven, in front of the other Pharisees actually interceding on Jesus’s behalf (obviously, he is moving closer to the light). Lastly, we see him with Joseph of Arimathea at Jesus’ death. It is Nicodemus along with Joseph who come forward publicly and ask permission to bury the body (maybe light*2).
Are we frustrated with our lack of spiritual understanding? Do we think that we should be farther along in our faith given all we know or have experienced? Take heart, God is still at work in our lives. Like Nicodemus, our journey of faith continues all the way to the cross . . . and beyond.