The following verse and a half are found in John’s gospel chapter 3, verses 1 and 2
‘Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night…”’
If you are anything like me, this is a season full of questions. I am at the beginning of my journey into ministry, but I am no longer at the beginning of the journey we call life, and so I have arrived here with a unique mix of insights and misconceptions, experiences and dreams, gifts and brokenness, and this ‘unprecedented time’ continues to challenge me. I find that I have to question some of my assumptions. I have to learn new things, both practical, technical and theological – from how Zoom works to what can be said about God’s role in suffering. And I have to ask difficult questions sometimes about my own past and my current priorities. I wonder if I am the only one?
Maybe I am. But when I read these few verses, I found a fellow questioner. Nicodemus, like the other Pharisees, had heard Jesus teach over the Passover Festival, and he must have heard about some of the signs which John refers to at the end of chapter 2. It seems that he, too, feels challenged by the ‘unprecedented situation’ he finds himself in, and so he decides to go to Jesus and ask some of the questions he has.
It seems that Jesus is addressing some of Nicodemus’ preconceived notions, like He seems to be for some of us at the moment. And we will get to those tomorrow, but for now, I just wanted to leave you with a very simple thought.
Nicodemus took his questions to Jesus.
He had a conversation with Jesus in private. He asked Jesus to explain. He was not satisfied with the signs. He was not going to just be one of the crowd, listening in passing and then moving on. He took his questions to Jesus to hear and see for himself, and then he allowed Jesus to challenge some of the ideas which Nicodemus was utterly convinced about. Nicodemus was a well-respected man with years and years of study behind him, yet he allowed Jesus to challenge him. I’m sure Nicodemus got more than he bargained for. We often do when we begin a conversation with Jesus but that’s the joy (and the risk!) of prayer.
I am not sure Nicodemus instantly ‘got it’. I doubt it. I rarely do. But creating faith and changing belief is not my job, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. All I can do is engage in a conversation with God.
So, all I really want to say to you today is: Don’t forget to take your questions to Jesus. Whether in the morning, or in the afternoon, or late at night, or at 3 am when for some reason, you can’t sleep. Preferably all of them. Jesus doesn’t mind the hard questions and He is ready for it, when you decide to ask, to question, to enquire.
Once again, it seems the invitation is: Come, see for yourself. Perhaps what you will find is not so much an explanation as a relationship. But as I said, sometimes you get more than you bargained for. That’s fine.
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- Holy Spirit