He had to come by night. He couldn’t let others see him. After all, he was a leader among the Pharisees, and his colleagues were already starting to get nasty about this Jesus from Galillee.
But Nicodemus had questions. As a Pharisee, he was well-trained in asking and testing the Torah and among his colleagues about the daily details of living a holy life. He was really good at that. But being a leader among his people didn’t quiet the questions within him. He had different kind of questions in mind. Bigger, broader ones. Questions that went to the core of it all, to what lay beneath what we can sense, to what drives it all. Questions of what life itself and especially the life of faith were all about.
Nicodemus had heard of the wonders Jesus was working, and knew Jesus was a teacher. If Jesus really had the power of God moving him, then this was the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to get to the bottom of this.
What Jesus told him astounded him. Rebirth — an adult, starting all over again from birth? Born to be fully free in the very Spirit of God? If the matters of life were so consuming of his thoughts, how much more mind-boggling were the matters of God?
John’s gospel, no doubt, gave us just a very brief, one-minute taste of this encounter. Just enough to teach us what it was about. One can only imagine what more was said. The keys are: (1) that Nicodemus wanted to learn the ways of God, and (2) that he had finally come to the One who could teach him — Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God.
What are your questions for God? Go ahead. Ask. You may be astounded.
God, the font of all wisdom, give us the courage to dare to ask You about what perplexed us. Open us to Your answers, and Your questions. Amen.
A Lenten challenge: take some time just to think about just one question that keeps coming back at you. Whatever it is. Write it down. Spend at least one hour today in prayer and study of Scripture and what others have learned about it. You probably won’t come to an ‘answer’, but God may reward you by moving you further along in your search.