Nicodemus said to [Jesus], “How can these things be?” John 3:9 (NRSV)
Nicodemus approached Jesus in the dark of night and began asking questions about how to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus’ answers were full of symbolism and metaphors, and Nicodemus took what he said literally. Spirituality is much deeper than what we can see on the surface. We have to move deeper into our relationship with God and each other before we can truly begin to understand the process of growing spiritually.
Maybe Nicodemus was really seeking answers. Maybe he was feeling left empty as a Pharisee because there seemed to be something lacking. Maybe he saw that something in Jesus and wanted to learn more, but he went away confused.
How can one be born again? The translation in many Bible actually is “born from above,” which makes a lot of sense when we consider the nature of Nicodemus’ quest. Or maybe his questions were to trick Jesus. Was he sent by the Pharisees to learn more under the guise of really being interested? Did he question Jesus to try to find some ammunition against him? We really don’t know.
Nicodemus did show up again later in the gospel of John as one who tried to defend Jesus at his trial before the Sanhedrin, and then he showed up at the cross after Jesus died to help Joseph of Arimathea in the burial process, but we really don’t know what his intentions were when he went to see Jesus under the cover of darkness.
Darkness indicates something secret; it can also represent not knowing, such as, “in the dark.” In the scriptures, it also was symbolic of not knowing God and the light was the symbol of revelation and the presence of God. Wrestling with these images is always fascinating because we tend to also wrestle with our own beliefs and our own faith journeys.
So, what can we learn from Nicodemus?
What do you see in this story (John 4:1-17) that helps in your walk of faith?
How do you identify with Nicodemus?
How do you NOT identify with him?