Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night… – John 3:1-2

There are times when a few small words can open up worlds of insight into a story or passage of scripture. In this story, there are two little words at the very beginning of this passage that completely change the way that we read the story of Nicodemus. John makes sure to tell us that Nicodemus, a Pharisee and “ruler of the Jews,” came to Jesus (and here are the words) “by night.” Why would John draw our attention to that little detail? It doesn’t seem like the time of day really matters much to the rest of the narrative. Why do you think that he came to Jesus “by night”?

Well, my Mom told me the answer to that question many times growing up. She would tell me, “Nothing good happens after dark!” I used to roll my eyes at her, but now that I have kids, I find myself wanting to say the same thing to my kids. Why? Because I remember the kind of trouble that I used to get into when I was younger, and I know that there are just more opportunities for trouble when the lights are low. Maybe it’s because there are fewer people out, or you are less likely to be seen, but all I know is that Mom’s wisdom, although I hate to admit it, is pretty accurate.

So, maybe John adds this detail to let us know that Nicodemus was doing something naughty by going to see Jesus. Of course, we wouldn’t see it as naughty at all… from our perspective, we see this as the best possible choice because we know who Jesus really is and we know how much he can help. However, from the perspective of a good “leader of Israel,” to go and learn from this rebel Rabbi named Jesus, would have been highly inappropriate. So maybe Nicodemus didn’t want people to know that he was interested in Jesus.

Hmm. Do you know anyone who sneaks around and sorta wants to hide their faith? We don’t really need the night anymore to hide. We can even hide in our churches. We might be open about our faith in the light of day on Sundays, at church, but what about the rest of the week? I know that there have been times when I have been tempted to hide my faith, or at least to avoid bringing it out into the light. Maybe this is a challenge for us today. What are some ways that we can bring our relationship with Jesus out into the light today?

Josh Rose
Discipleship Pastor

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