It’s official! Today daylight starts getting longer! Whoo Hoo!
Today is also the day we get to talk about the second bible character I hope to meet in heaven. I suppose it’s silly to put it that way because even though there will perhaps be billions of people in heaven, I will have all of eternity to meet them. Sooner or later I’ll meet up with Nicodemus.
Yes, that’s right, Nicodemus. He’s my second favorite character, although on some days he’s first. You all know the story. He sneaks in to see Jesus, and Jesus responds with some very strange answers. Let’s look at some of that.
John 3:1-3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
It would seem that some of the conversation had been left out of John’s gospel, but there is no reason to believe that. Instead, it is more likely that Jesus simply understood what this man was seeking and he cut through all the pleasantries to get right down to business. I’m sure Nicodemus didn’t see that coming, nor would we. Nicodemus understood the teaching method Jesus presented and volleyed the ball back, and, again, Jesus replied in a strange way.
v. 4-8 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
To which Nicodemus responded, and Jesus replied:
v. 9-15 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaved, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Jesus then went on to speak. Just because these words are so important, let’s go through them, and let them flow over our minds this morning.
v. 16-21 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.”
Here’s why I want to meet Nicodemus. I want to ask him what was going on in his mind that evening and the time to follow. It is apparent that Jesus’ words radically changed his world because he challenged the Sanhedrin regarding their actions against Jesus (John 7:50-51) and actually helped bury him (John 19:39-42). We can safely conclude that Nicodemus was indeed born of the Spirit and thus granted permission to one day enter the kingdom of God. I want to know what was going through his mind up to the point that he finally said, “Yes!” to Jesus. Why? Because I can relate to that. I approached God in secret darkness seeking answers but not understanding. Looking back, I can see that the reason I was seeking was because the Father was drawing me to his Son (John 6:44, 65). So it was for Nicodemus. Still, I would love to hear him tell me about that whole process. For me, it took many sleepless nights, tossing and turning, wanting desperately for something to fix me yet refusing to accept what I knew to be true. I’ll bet it was the same for Nicodemus. I’ll bet he didn’t give up his entrenched, man-made belief system easily. No, my guess is that the hound of heaven was working him hard for some time before he risked that nighttime meeting and probably for some time afterwards.
I also want to know what that moment for him was like when he did finally give it all over to Jesus, lock, stock, and barrel. You know, that moment when he pushed all his chips in for Jesus, that moment when there is no turning back. Mine was a lightning bolt moment, like you sometimes hear about. I’ll bet his was like that. Maybe not, but I bet it was. I want to know what that was like. I want to hear him talk about how he viewed Jesus, before and after. I want to hear all about what Jesus had done for him. It simply HAS to be a great story, don’t you think? I mean, look at it this way. The MOST important verse of the bible, John 3:16, was told in private by none other than Jesus himself to this man named Nicodemus. That’s big stuff. And John recorded it in great detail. Wow!
I’m reminded that I didn’t share yesterday why, exactly, I want to meet the demon-possessed man. Well, first, I would like to know his real name. “Legion” was the name of the demon who possessed him, but we don’t know the man’s name. Second, I want to know what was going through his mind when he saw Jesus. We know what the demon thought, but we don’t know what the man thought. Was he going through something similar to Nicodemus and me? Did he know he was possessed and unable to do anything about it on his own? Did he know the answer was in God? Did he fight that idea? What happened to him the moment Jesus had mercy? What was it like to be sitting next to Jesus, clothed and in his right mind? What was it like to hear that he needed to stay and proclaim the gospel? What was it like to do just that?
Do you see what I mean? I’ll bet I could listen to their stories for a long, long time. Jesus’ story. Saving grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.
Father, how I love to hear stories about how you moved mountains in the hearts of people, to do what is impossible for man and forever change their lives. Thank you so much for doing just that for me. Let me be encouraged by these stories that I make bold moves to proclaim the gospel, just as these two men have done, and like so many others have as well. Let me be one of many, many today who tell people about Jesus. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers