Bright Thursday 2009. Nicodemus meets Jesus.

Bright Thursday

Illumination by degrees, but only if we stay in the kitchen!

 

The story of Nicodemus meeting with Christ is our story. We are Nicodemus, and Peter, and Mary Magdalene, and Thomas, and the Blind man, and the Paralytic, and all the rest, whom we have read about or will read about in this season; for them and us, illumination comes over time, and always with great effort and waiting on our part.

 

There is a constant theme throughout this Paschal period, up to and including Pentecost. It is the sure and certain aspect of everyone’s life – we come to an understanding of holy things slowly, and only if we struggle and endure.

 

We read about these people, such as Nicodemus, and still we do not really “get it”. He was a flesh and blood person; He did not understand all things, he made mistakes, he sinned, and he was confused. He was just like us, or shall we say, he had our weaknesses. It remains to be seen if we have a share in his strengths.

 

Look for a Saint in the bible that did not have feet of clay! Peter, David, all the Apostles – anyone! They struggled with their human condition, and it took them time to get better – to understand, to do, to repent, to become what they were made to be. So it is with us.

 

So many stories, and throughout them all, a golden thread – God’s grace is sufficient even if it does not seem sufficient, even if we cannot feel it at all, even if our weak-willed humanity gets in our own way as we crawl towards God! If we wait, and act upon what we know, God will help us. It does not matter what we feel – it matters what we do, and that we endure.

 

Nicodemus is a perfect example of this golden thread. He came to Jesus by night. Why? Because he was a Pharisee, and he was afraid of being found out by his peers! This is not an auspicious beginning for the man we would later call “equal to the Apostles”, because he was the first to evangelize Great Britain.

 

Nicodemus knew there was something different and profound about this man Jesus, because he has heard him speak in a way unlike any other man, with authority, unlike the Pharisees or Scribes. He was a thoughtful man, good, seeking God, but the ensuing conversation shows he was very confused, and the Lord even rebuked him because of this, saying:

 

“Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”

 

Jesus told him fantastic things, and Nicodemus must have gone away more confused than when he first came. We know he remained a Pharisee; he did not become a constant follower of Jesus. Perhaps he was still afraid of what would happen to him if he declared his loyalty to Jesus, perhaps he was still very confused about Jesus and his teaching. None of this matters.  We know he endured; he wrestled with these things, and he came to know the truth, because after the crucifixion, he became brave, and took the body of Jesus from Pilate, to prepare it for burial, ostensibly ruining his career as a Pharisee, and endangering his life.

 

It took some time for Nicodemus to understand. As his understanding grew, he found the courage to act upon it, and now we call him “Equal to the Apostles.”

 

It is like this with everyone, you and me too. We struggle with faith, we wrestle with ourselves. Sometimes it feels like we are losing. We know what we should become and we are not becoming it; we have times of confusion, sorrow, unbelief in various forms. This happens to everyone! Anybody who says they have never had a moment when their faith was weak, or even barely there – is a liar!

 

Our weakness does not matter. Our confusion does not matter. Not even our sins matter. The only thing that will kill us if we quit.  Nicodemus spent three years pondering the things Jesus said to him; he did not quit. As we learn, we must do. When we will learn, and how – these things are not revealed to us, because:

 

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

 

We have been born of water – we have been baptized. We will be born of the Spirit; we must wait, and endure, and act upon the truth as we understand it and develop a greater ability to act on it. If we do this, then truly Nicodemus story, will be our story in every way.

 

Christ is risen!

This post was referenced in:

Clergy Piggies & the Stinky Clay Wees from the excellent blog "Orthodixie"

 

John 3:1-15    1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

 

 

 

Bibliography

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St John, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/. ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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2 Responses to “Bright Thursday 2009. Nicodemus meets Jesus.”

  1. Pilgrim says:

    Some people have an Idea that God is inclusive for mans eternal destiny, that all religions and all people will be saved. That God will allow all of mankind to enter into heaven because everybody is good so God must be fair and include everyone! It is true God does love the whole world but God is exclusive about mans eternal destiny without the Savior. To keep this simple man has a problem called sin in which man refuses to believe that there are eternal consequences for having sin, which is a one way ticket to hell. God is holy and he will not allow anyone with sin to enter into heaven. God is hurt and angry about our sin, we have broken his laws. But God is just and good and he knows our need so he provided a solution to our problem. His solution to our problem is to have our sins removed by having our sins placed on someone else, a sacrifice for us; paying for the penalty of the sin we have in our lives. So that someone else would get the penalty of Gods wrath and separation on him that was meant for us. So God sent his son Jesus on a mission from heaven to earth as our sacrifice to die on the cross on our behalf after this happened three days later Jesus came back from the dead, alive. But that’s not all remember I wrote that God is exclusive about mans eternal destiny without the Savior? The only way that Gods promise can be applied to your life is for you to turn from your way of thinking and know that your sin offends and hurts God and call on the Lord Jesus who’s alive to save you. Your sins are then transferred to Jesus for what he did at the cross, dying and being abandon by God because of your sins, for you and because Jesus arose from the dead he is alive you can now enter into a relationship with God. Will you call out to Jesus to save you? It’s your choice to enter in exclusively with God’s grace for you. Where will you want to spend eternity after hearing Gods promise for you?
    If the answer was yes that you do want Jesus as your sin bearer, Savior, and you do believe God raised Jesus from the dead you can pray with your voice.

    “Dear Jesus save me.”

    Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

  2. I am Fahim Qaiser from Pakistan . I have studied your web site, and I found it the most wonderful site to get right to the True Word of God. My suggestion for you is to create your material in my language of Urdu and Punjabi also. It will bring lots of blessings of the Word of God for the Pakistani and Indian Urdu and Punjabi speaking people. For that purpose I as a translator will bring your material into Urdu languages and into Punjabi language as well.
    Although it will take your low expenses as well, as fund for the Word of God to reach out to the deserving people. I my self, work on a local radio station also. Many times it becomes difficult for us to keep doing this because of being minorities and because of the lack of the financial resources. I will wait for your response.

    Sincerely,
    Fahim Qaiser ( Pakistan ).

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