Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love

Nic At Night: Nicodemus the Night Visitor

Getting to know old Nicodemus the Pharisee

Sometimes the strangest people come calling late at night.

How can someone be reborn?

Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old?
Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 

Nicodemus is confused – Conversion isn’t really a thing in the 1st century.

Mostly ancient peoples believed that “geography, gender, & generation” determined a person’s religion & identity in birth & they stayed there.

Conversion or Rebirth really seems to come along with Christianity.

We kind of get it, but this is new spiritual territory to Nicodemus.

How can someone believe?

Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? …If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” 

“Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due.

Nicodemus lived in a box – a box created by and limited by his own “geography, gender, & generation” – a box that became a barrier to faith.

The law that bound Nic’s world & identity spoke of wages that were due.

The birth that Jesus spoke of was born in faith & unearned righteousness.

Nicodemus is stuck in the box of conventional religion. Jesus works to bring him into the wide-open, mysterious place of Holy Spirit filled faith.

Saved to life by faith – not by works or the law

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

Like Nicodemus, we too can be kept from seeing the light of revelation because we are blinded by the light we already see.

But if we can humbly admit that our own knowledge is incomplete;
that our own experiences are inadequate … then
we can be open to the unboxed-in righteousness & salvation by faith.

And can I offer one more thought on this most famous of Bible verses?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
It seems that this boxed-in idea of righteousness that we tend to prefer; this legal-minded religion that we cling to, has become obsessed with the idea of ‘substitutionary atonement’ …so much so, that we see this phrase … gave his only son … as a kind of cosmic child abuse where we envision an angry wrathful father inflicting the whole weight of that wrath upon his only son, as though Jesus stepped in and took a whoopin’ for all of us.

But, what if we saw this phrase through the lens of, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14) Then, what we see is an undivided Father & Son working together to communicate with us. For God so loved the world that he gave us his Son that we might know him.

 

Jesus didn’t teach Nic how to be a better lawman

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world,
but in order that the world might be saved through him.

In light of that, we might see that the Son did not come for some legal condemnation that fits better into the confines of standard religious box.

Jesus may be our judge, but he judges through the eyes of God’s love!

There’s hope for old Nic the Pharisee

And just 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.

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph
was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders.
With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.
He was accompanied by Nicodemus,
the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.

Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices,
in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

I have a feeling that old Nic probably ‘got it’. I’m guessing he came around

He might have continued as Pharisee in the Sanhedrin;

And we know that some of the Sanhedrin disagreed with the trumped up hanging trial that Jesus faced. … In the end, Nic was there donating & helping to lay Jesus’ body to rest … and that’s GOOD NEWS

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