Saturday, March 28, 2015

He came to Jesus at night. John 3:2

This is the account of Nicodemus, leading to the famous declaration of Jesus that you must be born again to enter the kingdom of God.

But in this comment, I want to highlight, not the point that night time suggests Nicodemus was hoping to approach and decipher for himself who Jesus was under the relative anonymity of nighttime cover, but that Jesus actually made himself available for scrutiny to someone who was not necessarily on side, at an ungodly hour.
How often do we seek Jesus at untimely hours? Times that suit us because they are our time of need, but don't necessarily suit Jesus.
I am biased. I work in a job that involves the occasional call out at ungodly hours. No matter how serious the reason for the call out, I never enjoy getting out of bed when duty calls. and if you want to taste the less savoury side of my personality, call me out at 1 or 2am and, believe me, politeness is not a priority. 

Why does Jesus bother to speak to Nicodemus? Why didn't he put the discussion off to a more reasonable hour? Was Jesus entitled to some down time, away from theological arguments? It seems that Jesus made no complaint at being approached as he was, after dark. In a sense he took the subordinate role. Although from our perspective, Jesus was superior in every sense, he was probably younger than Nicodemus, and had no recognised teaching authority as a son of a carpenter. Still, Jesus could have refused to speak with him. But he didn't. Nor does he take the easy path in dealing with Nicodemus's questions. He explains very exactly, though in words that are too deep for Nicodemus, how it is that a person can recognise the action and authority of God. Only by being born again. Nicodemus tries to demystify what Jesus says, but is unsuccessful. Yet somehow those words have an effect on him, and I have a very strong sense that Nicodemus was a true believer soon after that encounter. After all, was it not the Holy Spirit who "blew" Nicodemus into Jesus that night?

Maybe like Nicodemus, as I lie sleepless in the dark, I also want to approach Jesus, to ask him to make sense of my life and struggles, and give me peace and motivation to continue in the journey of faith in this world.

I trust that Jesus is still willing to take questions and commune with questioners, even total strangers with preconceived ideas, at hours well after dark.

By the way, I don't think anyone can clearly explain what being "born again" really means. Yes we experience rebirth, it is essential to our life of faith, but It's certainly not something we can accomplish by our own means, no more than we can accomplish our natural birth. Experiencing rebirth does not make us experts in it. Babies are definitely passive participants in the birth process, I have delivered many. Although every woman was once born herself, that does not make her less nervous giving birth. It is all in God's hands, yet we do participate, sometimes in vital ways.