Strangers in the Night
by Shannon Moore
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night… JOHN 3:1,2
Throughout the gospels, it’s pretty clear that the Pharisees were not exactly Jesus fans. He pushed their buttons, often contradicted their teachings, and had the ability to make lots of people follow him around and listen to what he had to say. That can be pretty scary for religious leaders.
Jesus’ strained relationship with the Pharisees is part of what makes this scripture passage somewhat peculiar. Who IS Nicodemus? (He only appears in the book of John). We know he is a Pharisee, but the fact that he comes to Jesus at night cloaks this story in mystery. Has he been sent as a representative of his colleagues, or has he come on his own?
The Pharisees, who live to uphold the letter of the law, have placed the value of Jesus’ work on his ability to present signs and to do miracles. It seems as if his words have gone beyond them.
Nicodemus is stuck in the literal. He struggles with Jesus’ statement that we must be born again in the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Are we that different from Nicodemus and the Pharisees? Too often we let our own expectations of God prevent us from seeing the good news that surrounds us. Do we have a strong relationship with Christ that functions as an important part of our lives, or do we only look for Jesus to do things for us? Are we Christians in the light of day, or do we act as we please around others, approaching Jesus only in secret?
As we focus on Building Relationships this month, start looking for a small group (Sunday School, Bible study, fellowship group, etc.) that will help you in living the Christian life in all seasons—day or night!