Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lent XII...The Second Sunday

The second Sunday of Lent introduces us to Nicodemus.  Actually, most of us need no introduction.  By now we are well acquainted with this nocturnal visitor of Jesus.  The story told in the third chapter of John is one of those Biblical stories that seems unfinished.  It tells us of this Pharisee's spiritual struggle and Jesus' response to him, but then our search for the ending of the narrative disappears in a teaching of Jesus.  We are left wondering about this seeker who secretly came to Jesus under the cover of darkness.  John's gospel is almost finished when we read the conclusion of the story.  Nicodemus came to faith in Christ for in the 39th verse of the John 19, we see him and Joseph of Arimathea taking down the body of Jesus from the cross.  The seeker who came by night lest he been seen is seen once again, but this time in the light of day and as a man of faith.
We wish we knew more about the spiritual journey that brought him to the place of this public witness before the cross, but there is nothing.  But, then, it is like that for us as well.  There may be a few moments of our faith journey seen by others, but most of it is lived out off stage.  No spotlights are shining on us.  No one really sees the forward movement of our faith, or the struggles which seem to set us back.  Only God really sees the whole of the journey and only He understands how it is that we got to where we are from where we were.  There is a sense in which our faith is a very public matter, yet, it is also something which is fleshed out in the quiet unseen experiences of our life.

What is true of Nicodemus is true of any one of us.  If we come to faith and if we are able at some point to step out boldly for all to see, it is only because of the way God's grace is at work in us.  Clearly, Nicodemus was one who tried it the other way.  He came to Jesus thinking it was all about him and what he had done.  We have walked that way as well.  Sometimes we even go back to it and try again.  But, in the end, it is about grace.  From beginning to the end, this life with Christ is all about unconditional grace.  It is what got us started.  It will bring us home.

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