Jesus Take the Wheel
What ever happened to Nicodemus? At some point, he walked back into the synagogue after his nighttime meeting with Jesus. What did this teacher of Israel tell the young men and women who trusted him? We can’t know for sure.
For Nicodemus and his fellow Jews, the temptation to lose heart was great, to give in to frustration, resentment, and despair. The choking grip of the Romans on their land and lives meant that their long-held belief that God was sovereign, guiding them day by day—they had a covenant with God—was eclipsed by their relationship with centurions, imperial taxes, and frustrated hopes.
For Nicodemus and those around him, there was a great temptation to close up their hearts to any new “kingdom of God.” What could they make of this “kingdom of God” talk? Jesus challenged them—the wind can blow anywhere, anytime.
After his late-night conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus’ preaching, his actions in Jerusalem, and his disruption in the Temple led him down the path to death outside the city walls.
But something happened to Nicodemus. Something about his encounter with Jesus changed the direction of his course. At the end of John’s Gospel we find him near Jesus again. Joseph of Arimathea has offered his tomb for Christ, and Nicodemus brings the scented embalming spices to prepare him for his grave. (See Jn 19:38–42.) It could not have been safe for these leaders, these Pharisees, to bury this crucified criminal, to be seen with the last few followers who came to claim him. But in the middle of this dark day, Nicodemus follows Christ.
How did Nicodemus find his way out of that earlier darker night? Where did he find spiritual depth? In Jesus. He could not shake the relationship he began, talking with Jesus.
Following Jesus as a spiritual compass was clearly a serious choice. Deadly serious. It was also life transforming, because life itself was transformed by the resurrection. Do we believe in this life-transforming message? Do we believe Jesus overcame death? Our first and strangest spiritual hurdle may be to absorb an amazing statement that has become familiar: Jesus rose. He has overcome death.
Spiritual maturity in the Christian life starts with embracing the One who has the power to make us into something new, the One who has the power to overcome death.
Jesus told Nicodemus we must be born again. This journey of rebirth, this journey to new, transformed life will take our whole life to complete.