Thursday, January 5, 2017
One Well Known
No encounter with Jesus is more well known than that of Nicodemus. His story is told in the third chapter of John. Unlike the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well or those disciples of John the Baptist, Nicodemus went looking for Jesus. Fearful of what others would think, he went hidden by the darkness of night. Nicodemus was seen by others as one who had it made. He was a powerful person. He was a religious leader. His face was well known in Jerusalem. Nothing about his life suggested that he had any reason to seek out this young radical rabbi named Jesus.
But, there he goes, nonetheless. While he does not want to be seen by his peers, he has no idea that Jesus would see him so clearly. Though standing in the shadows, nothing seems hidden in the presence of Jesus. His hunger for more is exposed and, thus, he is confronted not so much by Jesus as he is by his true inner self. The façade no longer is comfortable. It no longer fits. No one knows more clearly than he does in that encounter that something more than just important is missing in his life.
As the narrative of the encounter fades and disappears, it is not clear what Nicodemus did in that moment of self=confrontation. Did he run and continue to hide from himself? Did he become a disciple, or did he slip back into his life as he knew it without anyone ever knowing how close he was to changing into something new? If all we knew about Nicodemus was contained in chapter three, we could only speculate. However, he shows back up later and this time in the broad day light of the most important hour in all of human history. In that hour when he helps a friend take Jesus down from the cross and carry Him to the burial place, there is no doubt about what happened in that first encounter with Jesus. Real encounters with Jesus always bring us out of the shadows and into the very visible place where kingdom dwellers live.