After Dark one evening, Nicodemus (I like to call him “Nico”), a Jewish Leader and a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi, we all know that God has sent you to teach us, for your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you.”
Jesus: “I assure you, unless you are born again (born from above), you can never (are not able) to see (perceive, recognize) the Kingdom of God.
Nico: “Huh?” How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?
Jesus: no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from Heaven. So don’t be surprised at my statement that y’all must be born again. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it’s going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.
Jesus: “You’re a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I’m telling you what we know and have seen and you won’t believe us. If you don’t even believe me when I tell you about things that happen here on earth, how then can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in Heaven? Only I, the Son of Man, have come to earth and will return to Heaven again. As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.” —John 3:1-15
First off, why did Nico show up at night? It’s understood that the teachers would often converse at night, possibly a time when they were most free from their daily responsibilities (or just a time when they didn’t have to worry about anybody else listening in?) But did Nico really go to Jesus at night because such was the time to converse such things, or was it because he was afraid of the other teachers and members of the Sanhedrin seeing him? I kind of wonder if it might be both, for we later hear of Nico being one who helped to acquire Jesus’ body and spices for His burial, all while he was still a member of the group that was plotting Jesus’ death. So I’m willing to bet that he went at night because it was the only time he could get enough free time to have a good discussion with Jesus, but also because he feared being caught and outcast by his religious group.
Jesus made a good point though when He questioned Nico for not understanding. I almost wonder if maybe it was clicking with Nico theologically, but the possibility of Jesus’ claims about Himself being true would be so extraordinary that it wasn’t whether or not Nico understood, but whether or not Nico could actually comprehend, or accept it (thus bringing us back to John 1:10).
All too often, we get caught up in worldly things. When this happens, we begin to believe mostly only the earthly things, and when something of Heaven is told to us, it seems difficult, or impossible to believe, as it was with Nico. For instance, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked with who actually believe that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible. They can’t tell me where it is, but they’re sure that it’s there. But if they were to look, they’d never find it, for not only is it not in the Bible, but it’s not even Theological. The origin of this quote comes from one of Aesop’s Fables, where an old man’s wooden cart gets stuck in the mud. He prays to Hercules for help, and instead of helping him, Hercules replies that he’s a foolish man and that “’the gods’ only help those who help themselves.” But Benjamin Franklin and Rockefeller both said this in speeches, and both were respected religious men, so why wouldn’t one believe that it came from the Bible? So it messes these people up because they’re not close to God, nor can they help themselves, so they think they can’t approach Him.
That’s why it’s so important to keep our focus on the Kingdom of God. Otherwise, we run the risk of believing only what the world can show us.