Nicodemus was a devout and sincere follower of God. If we were to look at his life, we would not only see a devoted practice to the Mosaic Law (all the activities he was supposed to do and all the activities he was not to do), we would see a man who sincerely wanted to live a pleasing life unto his God. Nicodemus was not just going through the motions—his heart and life were seeking the will of God.
That is why he comes to Jesus. “You are clearly blessed by God,” he says to Jesus. Nicodemus sees Jesus as a Prophet of old. He is voicing a belief that only some of his peers agree with—there are many more peers who disagree with Jesus being a prophet. That is why he comes to visit Jesus at night—he doesn’t want to be public.
Nicodemus is caught between two worlds—one world is the wisdom and tradition of human religious faith and practice; the other world is the wisdom and life of God’s presence in the person of Jesus. Nicodemus wants to know and be with Jesus more, but he is hesitant about leaving the safety of his human faith and practice.
Jesus knows. He gives Nicodemus a riddle—he doesn’t tell it to him straight. “No one gets to see God’s Kingdom unless they are birthed anew.” “That cannot happen, Jesus.” “You must be born of water and spirit.” Nicodemus doesn’t get it. And frankly, we wouldn’t either except that we know the rest of the story. Jesus challenges Nicodemus—you’re a teacher of Israel…you’re supposed to be spiritually mature…and you can’t follow what I’m trying (and have been trying) to teach? You wouldn’t be able to handle the straight, heavenly Truth!
Jesus goes on to speak in more riddles—another serpent raised upon a pole to save the people…so The Son of Man will be raised up on a pole to save the people. The Son has come to save the world, not condemn it, because God loves the world.
I have often wondered just how similar we are to Nicodemus. I know, it isn’t cool to think of ourselves as being like the dummy in the story (it’s always easier to think of the guy next to us as the dummy). Don’t you think that we get caught between worlds— one world being the wisdom and tradition of human religious faith and practice; the other world being the wisdom and life of God’s presence in the person of Jesus?
Look at this image. Have you ever seen these things before? They are called magic eyes. I’ve probably talked about them in the past and will probably talk about them in the future because they are really great to illustrate a point: what we see is not always what we could see.
Jesus got onto Nicodemus’ case because all he was using to see the world was his human, sinful eyes. And by doing so, it was impossible to see what the Spirit was doing. He needed to have Godly, spiritual eyes. And the only way to see that way is for God to re-birth him.
Only when God has given us His eyes, will we be able to see and keep pace with the Spirit. The Spirit will say, “Look, do you see the shark?” And then, when we see it, we will never see the same again…we will know there is something else there besides gobbledygook.
But there is always the temptation to settle—to go back to the old way of seeing things. It’s easier in one sense…not as much work…more comfortable. We get into these human ruts, these spiritual blinders, and we fail to see what God is doing.
We must continually be ready for God to birth us anew…having the human eyes fall away and having God place His eyes within us. We must be in step with the Spirit—whose pattern and direction does not make sense to the eyes of this world—to them it is gobbledygook.
Are you living the maturing, Christian life of someone who has been birthed anew? Are you seeing as God reveals? Are you understanding as God reveals? Are you living as God reveals? Or, do your eyes, mind, and life need to be rebirthed?