Our small group passage this week is John 3:1-36. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the individual to whom Christ spoke the most well known of scriptural verses, John 3:16. The man was Nicodemus. He was a prominent Jewish leader within the Sanhedrin religious / political order, and he would have surely been a very influential citizen. Yet, despite the strong opposition to Jesus from most of his peers, Nicodemus recognized the Messianic traits that Jesus had exhibited and desired to meet the "Rabbi" to gain a better understanding, (albeit late at night when no one else would observe).
It was during this after hours encounter that Nicodemus received explanation on the idea of being "Born Again" and where Jesus referenced the Old Testament teaching of Moses lifting of the snake in the wilderness so that those who looked to it would be healed, which foreshadowed the events on Calvary's Hill. Finally, it was here that Jesus spoke John 3:16 to Nicodemus, (yes, John 3:16 is a red letter verse), in order to reveal the Gospel. In a nutshell, as it's often called, John 3:16 says: God loved. Jesus was sent. Jesus died. Those who believe live eternally with Him.
Now, for those that knew Nicodemus from this passage may, or may not, have known that Nicodemus would later come to Jesus’ defense, when his colleagues called for Jesus' arrest and harshly criticized His teachings. In John 7:50-51 Nicodemus confronts the Pharisees and says, "Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?" He was promptly accused of being from Galilee; an insult and accusation of his sympathy to Christ.
Finally, we see Nicodemus again following the death of Christ. In John 19:38, Nicodemus accompanied Joseph of Arimathea, (another undercover believer), to take Jesus' body and provide for His burial. We are told of the Myrrh and Aloes that Nicodemus brings. Many believe that because of his position in the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus would have possessed the wealth to provided for the burial site.
In short, I wonder if old Nicodemus realized that he would play such an instrumental part within scripture and ultimately within our modern conversation. Do you think he might just look down and smile every time he sees the rainbow-haired John 3:16 guy and think, "It's always a relevant message, but I heard it first.”
"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.