“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16–17
John chapter three contains perhaps the most beloved and cherished verse in all the scriptures and it’s found in the middle of a conversation that happened at night in secret.
Nicodemus was an important and wealthy teacher in Jerusalem and it appears that there was associated with such a position a fair amount of false pride. What I mean by this is that important teachers in Israel had to basically think they were in a place, when it came to learning and knowledge, where there was nothing any other teacher had to say that they didn’t already know. Put another way, they were above being taught by anyone else.
And then Jesus comes teaching with power and authority, saying things that set the entire theological community on its ear. He understood scripture in a way that gave it greater validity and authority than any other teacher. He was rapidly becoming the most popular teacher in then entire country and, to top it all off, he performed miracles.
The established teachers didn’t know what to do with him. He was obviously of a poorer class than they were, he hadn’t been educated in any of their schools, and what he taught made what they taught amount to nothing at all. Could he be brought under control and taught to fit in with all the other teachers? They didn’t know.
But Nicodemus was part of a small group of teachers that was impressed by Jesus. He was inclined to want to be his disciple but he had so much to lose if he did so, he’d lose face even if it was known that he had consulted with Jesus as an equal. So he came to Jesus secretly, at night.
Jesus didn’t waste any time with Nicodemus; he got right to the point. “You need to be born again.” Jesus told this proud, but searching, teacher that his only hope was to go back to the beginning and start everything over. And then Jesus told him that His entire purpose in coming to earth was to help people make this new start in their lives.
Seeking people won’t find any condemnation in Jesus, he didn’t come for that. Yes, they’ll find themselves convicted of their sins but they’ll also find Jesus is right there ready to give them forgiveness. Jesus came to give life, and hope, and forgiveness, and freedom from sin and its condemnation.
It took a while for Nicodemus to let go of his position and self importance and fully follow Jesus but it doesn’t have to take that long for you. It can happen fully and completely right now before you go any further with your day. You just have to be willing to let Jesus take you by the hand and lead you back to the beginning so that you can start over with him.
O Jesus, help me be willing to start over with you. Forgive me. Cleanse me. Give me life, eternal life.