|John La Farge, 1880 Smithsonian|
Jesus and Nicodemus
3Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus 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?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’
Thoughts: Nicodemus comes at night. He is a Pharisee and a member of the high council--an important man, but also one who is very careful with whom he is seen. In John's Gospel night is much more than just reference to the sun, it is an indication of disbelieve, lack of faith and spiritual darkness. Nicodemus comes at night and thus Jesus tells him that he is going to have to be born from above! Or as our Evangelical friends like to say--born again. This however does not mean some kind of subjective personal experience as many in America like to think; but a total new way of looking at the world. What Nicodemus needs is a new start, from scratch, an openness to that which God is doing through Jesus. What about us? Have we gotten ourselves into a kind of spiritual rut whereby we too need to be reborn?
Questions to ponder: What do you think Nicodemus risked by going to see Jesus? What signs do you think Nicodemus is talking about--the clearing of the Temple, the miracle at Cana? Do you think Nicodemus understood what Jesus was getting at--why or why not?