They sat together as the evening lengthened into full darkness. The wind had settled to a cool breeze, and in the clearness of the night, Nicodemus could see the whole town to the horizon, oil lamps flickering on rooftops, and in upper windows, the sound of a sheep here and there, bleating softly, the rustle and gentle hum of life all around them.
A deep peace settled into his core, as he mulled over all the things his rabbi had said, his young, sometimes cryptic, and strangely powerful rabban. As Nicodemus turned each teaching over in his mind, he saw new truths, like rays of alabaster light, illuminate his thoughts.
It is true, he reflected. Jesus had begun his testimony with all the prophet, John the Baptiser, had already been preaching, for months. Jesus is the Lamb of God. Looking back now, he should have presumed that would mean a sacrifice at some point, when God’s Lamb would become expiation of and atonement for the sins of God’s people.
And had not John also proclaimed Jesus as Messiah? The streets of Jerusalem had been on fire with the news.
And, he mused, the prophet had also introduced an innovation with baptism. They had spoken often of it in the Sanhedrin—heatedly! For John went farther than proclaiming the symbolic shedding of the old, non-Jewish life to a new life in the Jewish faith. That was traditional, it was required of all converts. And, John had taken baptism farther than as a purification rite for those of the Jewish faith.
He had instead boldly preached repentance for all—even for his own people, saying his baptism represented a shedding of one’s old life of sin—even for those in good standing with the Law of God—in preparation for the new kingdom to come! John called it a symbolic representation of the baptism Messiah would bring, in the Spirit.
It was a provocative teaching that had disturbed the scribes and teachers of the Law. It had disturbed him! Yet they had recognized the Spirit of God upon the prophet John, and upon the rabbi Jesus. The healings and signs had affirmed it.
And now this unnerving young rabban was teaching the baptism of the Spirit would be the reality John’s baptism pointed to.
Nicodemus berated himself. Jesus had been right to challenge him, he a teacher of the wisdom of God. He, a ruler in Judea. He, a student of the prophets. He should have made these connections.
As Jesus had explained to him about spiritual birth, about the wind of the spirit, Nicodemus had risen to Jesus’ challenge. He would lean in, he would receive this teaching. Then Jesus honored him with deeper revelation through the startling mystery behind the bronze serpent.
Yes, he believed. And even as he realized this, it was as though the moonlight began to glisten from within him, an aura of pearlescent glow emanating from his skin, silvering each hair on his arms and hands, misting out from his fingertips.
He found himself smiling in diffused, unnamable joy, a growing, sparkling well of tranquil rapture. His chest was filled with it, his breath deep with it. As Nicodemus watched the mystical wisps spread around his hands and cascade down his robe, the blue tassels at his feet taking on a vibrant intensity, and the Lord’s command came to mind, “make fringes on the corners of your garments to put a blue cord on the fringe at each corner. When you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them.”
Then, a feeling of great sorrow washed over him, a sense of loss, and he could feel his throat constrict. “Happy are those whose way is blameless,” he silently prayed, “who walk in the law of the Lord.” This had been his life’s work.
Following his thoughts, and sensitive to Nicodemus’ inner being, Jesus gave him a fourth Illustration.
In Genesis chapter 1, God’s word divided the light from the darkness. So now, Jesus, the Word and the Light, came into the world and divided those who love the Light from those who embrace the darkness.
It is not really intellectual issues with the gospel’s concepts that keep people from trusting in the Lord Jesus. Jesus explained to Nicodemus, the real problem is moral and spiritual blindness that keep people loving the darkness and hating the light.
Nobody really likes being shown to be wrong.
That is why it can be so hard to change. The light of God’s truth exposes what is wrong within a person and that truth presents a dilemma: either shimmy back into hiding, and reject the light. Or change.
I feel certain Jesus touched Nicodemus in a reassuring way, and spoke straight into the Pharisee’s hungering soul,
But, the one who does what is true and sincere, with integrity, comes into the light, so that it be made apparent [this one’s] works have been done in God.Jesus to Nicodemus, in John 3:21
Jesus was speaking in neutral terms, but I think his eyes told Nicodemus, “I am saying this for you.”
And what I think this spiritually sensitive and yearning Pharisee humbled himself to hear was that if he was willing to begin obeying the truth Jesus had given him, no matter what else the light might reveal (for light exposes all things), it would affirm him in God.
In order to love the light, one will have to hate the darkness
This is called repentance. When you and I acknowledge that something is wrong, and it has to change, we are agreeing to come out of hiding, and into God’s light. This process begins with a recognition, a conviction deep inside, that something is not right in our lives and we want it to be right. There is only one person Who can make it right. The Lord Jesus Christ.
You and I cannot keep loving what is wrong and love God at the same time. You and cannot hang onto darkness while trying to move into the light.
The bottom line is that we have to pick, and what we choose carries immediate and eternal implications. To choose Jesus means coming into the light, knowing that God’s light will expose whatever is broken and bent in our lives.
There will be some painful times involved in that, in fact, the Bible describes it as being like dying.
But what will really happen is that you and I will be freed from corruption and death, and we will have, starting now, eternal life.
[Moonlit Night | Courtesy Pikist.com]