Lent 2 John 3: 1 – 17
“He came to Jesus by night”, John tells us at the beginning of the story of Nicodemus’ visit to Jesus. The surrounding darkness gave him anonymity, he was apprehensive yet the darkness gave an illusion of safety. It was not just the outside darkness that Nicodemus wrapped around himself, there was inner darkness and confusion as the ensuing conversation illustrates. Nicodemus wanted discussion; he wanted to learn more about Jesus from the man himself. You sense Jesus’ sympathy and love for Nicodemus but his replies whilst offering hope and light also presented a challenge and called for commitment.
Jesus shows us in this story the compassionate way God handles our fragility and our desire to know him more. Jesus does not dismiss the searchings of Nicodemus neither does he pamper to his defences. He strips away the flimsy veil that Nicodemus is using to protect his soul and exposes it to God’s light and truth. Later the veil in the Temple would be torn in two as the full power of God’s light and truth was exposed on the cross as Jesus died.
Jesus admired and respected the intellect, the honesty and the desire of Nicodemus to understand him and what God was doing and so he challenged him to listen and to commit. He challenged Nicodemus to be honest with himself, his knowledge and his heart and take the leap of faith and run with the wind of the Spirit. This challenge is not just a one off conversion moment it is our daily challenge; it is our Lenten challenge.
It is a challenge that invites us to feast on God. The feast is found in the well known verses 16 and 17. In these verses is found an astonishing fact and a fantastic blessing. The fact is in the statement “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” His love prompted the gift. And the blessing is in the reason for his action: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”. He came to save.
Nicodemus wrapped up in the safety of his darkness sat down with the Son of God and was challenged to throw it away and grasp the freedom of life in the Kingdom of God. He struggled with what he heard as we can struggle with the mind blowing invitations God issues to us. But we know NIcodemus stuck with the struggle and finally paid the body of Jesus honour with myrrh and aloes. I like to think that in that tomb he was also blessed with the peace that the risen Jesus was to give and gives to his followers and that he found at last in the darkness of a tomb his place in the light of the Kingdom of God.