In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1: 1-5 NASB
Can you imagine conversing with the Creator of the universe? When I imagine this encounter ~ I am simply amazed; amazed that a holy God left the glory of heaven to meet face to face with His creation.
“One of the most comforting of all the Names and titles of Jesus, it is literally translated ‘with us is God’ or, as Matthew’s Gospel puts it ‘God with us’. When our sins made it impossible for us to come to Him, God took the outrageous step of coming to us, of making Himself susceptible to sorrow, familiar with temptation, and vulnerable to sin’s disruptive power, in order to cancel its claim. In Jesus we see how extreme God’s love is. Remember this the next time you feel discouraged, abandoned, or too timid to undertake some new endeavor. For Jesus is still Immanuel ~ He is still ‘God with us’.”1
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Nicodemus is staring into the face of the Word of God in the flesh. Everything Nicodemus loves about God and the Law is fulfilled in the man who sits before him, but he cannot see it. Jesus’ question proves more profound ~ how Nicodemus can be a teacher in Israel, yet does not recognize the kingdom he is awaiting. How can he lead Israel to the Messiah, if he does not recognize Him when He comes?
The Torah (the Law) contains 613 commandments; it includes commentary interpreting the Law. The leaders in Israel became so enveloped in the oral portion of the Law and the “works” of the Law; they failed to remember the principles of the Law:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 NASB
Jesus was not concerned with the oral traditions, and obviously from the Scripture in Matthew, the Sanhedrin lawfully practiced the Law by tithing; the trouble was their heart. Jesus wanted their hearts, and they were too stuck in religion. As Jesus spoke with Nicodemus that night in the garden, He longed for Nicodemus’ heart, knowing he must be born again to receive it from him.
Before we are too hard on Nicodemus, he has a heart that seeks Jesus, or he would not have risked everything to meet Jesus that night. Nicodemus, of all the teachers in Israel, is the only one who comes seeking and though he has not yet grasped it, he is longing to. He knows in his heart that Jesus is more than a miracle worker.
Just as Nicodemus came to inquire of Jesus, if we inquire of Him, He is faithful to answer and reveal Himself to us. He will draw out of us answers to our questions that may hurt, but healing is on the wings to bring us deeper into relationship with Him. Many times when we come to Jesus, we are humbled that we do not know it all; we are not the wellspring of wisdom for the masses. Jesus will cause us to see it is about Him and not us. He wants us to know Him and get ourselves out of the way to advance the Kingdom.
I believe Nicodemus wanted something more than the familiar; he had never heard anyone speak the oracles of God like Jesus. Jesus spoke with authority and power in His words ~ piercing his heart. Nicodemus risked everything by coming to Jesus: his life, title, and position in the Temple. Most of us will not give up our seat in the pew on Sunday morning. What are we willing to do to deepen our relationship with Jesus, and turn from the form and ritual that has us bound? If church is the same old thing Sunday after Sunday it is time to seek for something more. That does not mean leave your church, just keep seeking God to go deeper. Go to the garden at night and be alone with Jesus and inquire of Him.
Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? John 3:11
Jesus desires us to be born again, to be changed; we walk in to church and walk right back out unchanged. We keep so “busy for the Lord” we miss the Lord. We are so jealous of others when it is their season for promotion that we miss the advancement of the Kingdom; we are no different from the Pharisees.
No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. John 3:13~15
The time for trusting in the Law to save you is ended; put no trust in titles and positions ~ trust only in Jesus. Let us put no trust in our works or the government or money, but only in the Son of God.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. Psalm 20:7 NASB
Eternal Life is the Living God, the Creator of heaven and earth residing inside of you. He dwells in us; we become Kingdom minded. Trials and tests will come, but if we keep Him lifted up, the Kingdom will dwell in us, so will the King. I am convinced Nicodemus knew Jesus as his Redeemer by the end of the secret meeting in the garden; the King of the universe took up residence inside and gave him a new heart. We see Nicodemus just once after their meeting, at the burial of Jesus; he and Joseph of Arimathea receive permission to bury Him. (See John 19)
Let us put away old things and old traditions. It does not matter how deep your relationship with Jesus is ~ seek to go deeper. Make a habit of visiting Him in the garden. Can you see Him ~ fire radiating from His loving face? Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. He will welcome you with His arms open wide.
(1) Ann Spangler. Praying The Names of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006).