“After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus…” John 3.1-2.

The opening scene of John chapter three has Jesus and His disciples gathered in Jerusalem for a religious festival.  A religious festival that all Jews were required to attend at least once in their lives.  Jesus made a scene in the Temple, the most holy site in their religion, and the center of the festival.  Everyone knew He was in town.  Everyone saw Jesus drive out the merchants, demanding a pure worship of God and not commercial opportunities.  Everyone heard His claim of being God’s son. Nicodemus (we’ll call him Nic) took this opportunity to come to Jesus and ask Him an important question.

Going to visit Jesus wasn’t an easy thing because Nic was a leader of Israel in the Sanhedrin, part of the leaders that would later put Jesus to death (Luke 24.20).  The Sanhedrin was a council of religious leaders that made up the “court of justice” enforcing laws concerning the practices of Judaism, civil laws, as well as criminal laws.  The council had broad powers to press charges, bring to trial, and execute justice; even unto death (ISBE: “Sanhedrin”).  Also, Nic was a teacher of the Law.  He knew his religion/beliefs with absolute certainty.  He was known by the people for his strict adherence to the Law.  Because of his faithfulness to the Law he had risen to be a leader of the people.  He was rock-solid in his understanding of how God worked and how He interacted with His people.  That is until now, until Jesus.

Nicodemus knew of Jesus.  He knew of the miracles that occurred everywhere Jesus went.  Nic also heard Jesus’s claim, made right in the Temple, of being God’s son (John 2.16)!   This raised questions, hard ones about the nature of everything he had believed up until he met Jesus.  How can God have a son?  How can God appear to abandon His people in favor of a small town teacher?  How does this effect God’s promises?  How can what Jesus is saying be true?  Is there really a life after death?  You get the idea.  Nic represents everyman in this story.  He is like all of us.  We think we understand things.  We have had certain experiences in life and have resolved some understanding of God and how he interacts with us.  Some have determined that God does not exist at all, such is their experience so far.  But then we are confronted by Jesus and His claims.  This raises questions in us.  Am I sure of my understanding?  Do I need to assimilate this new information or completely rebuild my understanding?  How am I going to live my life in light of this new engagement by God?  Is there life after physical death?  Is there hope for me?

Nicodemus took his questions to Jesus.  I suggest that is the place these questions need to go.  We must take them to Jesus and engage Him, even as He is engaging us. We have a limited point of view on which we have based our understanding.  If our understanding is challenged then we need to take our questions about how it all fits back together again to a higher authority.   Just as Nicodemus was enlightened, that is brought out of his darkness and into the light, so we too will be enlightened.  Nic went to Jesus at night to avoid being seen by the people and the other leaders.  You do not have to make a great scene about going to Jesus.  Just as Jesus knew what Nicodemus’ real question was (Jesus did not even let Nic get his question out before Jesus answered it), He knows what questions you have.  Better still for you, Jesus has the answers you seek.