Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you
What do you think of Nicodemus? He’s kind of an interesting guy, isn’t he? John tells us that he was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews, and right away we have some preconceptions. Pharisee means someone who was in opposition to Jesus, particularly if he is a leader of the Jews, that probably means a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council, and we know what they ended up doing with Jesus. But he comes to Jesus with questions: you are a man from God, no one can do the things you’ve done unless you’re from God. He’s curious and has the right impulse. But he comes at night, probably so the other Pharisees and leaders won’t see him. And he seems to come with the answers — we know that you are a man from God. But he seems kind of dense: when Jesus answers, truly I tell you no one can see the Kingdom of God unless you’re born again, born from above. Nicodemus takes it literally: how can you be born if you’re old, you can’t enter your mother’s womb a second time. Dense Nicodemus — or is he? I mean, we’ve had two thousand years to try to analyze what Jesus said there and I’m not totally sure we’ve got it right yet.
No, I don’t think we should be too harsh on Nicodemus. This was powerful stuff he was hearing and would take some time to digest. But something happened with Nicodemus. That Spirit Jesus was talking about, the Holy Spirit was working. The next time we hear about him is in Chapter 7 of John, the Sanhedrin is thinking about taking action against Jesus, and Nicodemus says we need to hear from Jesus himself — Does our law judge a man, unless it first hears from him personally and knows what he does? And action is staved for a time. And finally, after Jesus is crucified and his body taken from the cross, it is Nicodemus who had and provided the expensive spices in which they prepared his body.
In so many ways, I think we are like Nicodemus, curious, yet, tentative, fearful enough only to come at night, sometimes dense, but sometimes a glimmer of light as the Spirit begins to teach us the glorious truth of what Jesus was trying to tell him and us. But once you profess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; once you turn to God and trust the Spirit to guide you, the easier it is to live by faith and know yourself as a disciple of Jesus Christ. So let the Spirit allow you to grow, to know that God loved the world so much, he sent his only begotten Son to save it. Believe it, live your lives like it!
Rev. Dale Brown is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.