Day 8: John 3:1-21

Night. If you want to do something sneaky, nighttime is a good choice. You’re harder to see (obviously), and since humans are daytime creatures, there are fewer eyes looking. So Nicodemus the Pharisee visits Jesus at night. The text doesn’t say so, but it’s because Jesus was extremely unpopular with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Wielding great power and influence in Jesus’ culture, they controlled the Jewish temple and were the spiritual gatekeepers of the religion.

There were a few among them who admired Jesus, because Nicodemus says, “We.” He doesn’t’ ask a question; he states that he and his friends accept that Jesus is from God because of the miracles he does.  That’s… good. Right?

I find Jesus’ response a little baffling (but then, so does Nicodemus, but for different reasons). He doesn’t acknowledge Nicodemus at all.  He expresses no gladness that Nicodemus and his friends admire him and don’t want to kill him like most of the Pharisees do. Maybe it’s because Nicodemus calls him Rabbi, which means teacher.

Jesus launches into some hard-nosed teaching.  The metaphors go completely over Nicodemus’ head; he takes them literally.  Jesus tries another approach, ideas familiar to Pharisees. Ol’ Nic is still stumped. Jesus can hardly believe Nic is a religion teacher!

When he goes to the Old Testament and that spiritual titan Moses, apparently Nicodemus still has a blank look. Because then Jesus lays it out – SMACK! Blunt as blunt can be. John 3: 16. Almost everyone can quote it: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The remaining verses are important, and I suspect Jesus chose metaphors about light and the darkness to tweak Nic’s nose about sneaking out at night to see him. He’s saying to Nicodemus, and to all of us, Yes, the world hates me. It thinks it can hide and keep its evil by staying in the dark. But you believe! Let your faith shine in the open so that God is glorified!

QUESTIONS: Might Jesus have responded differently if Nicodemus and his friends had acknowledged him openly? Explain.

If you were talking to a non-believer, how would you explain being “Born Again”?

PRAYER: You never give up on me, Lord. Your pursuit never falters. Your desire to grow me into my best self never flags. The power of your name makes darkness flee.  Praise your mighty name, Jesus!  Fill me so full of your holy light that there’s no room for fearing that the world might see you shining out!