The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, came to Jesus by night. This is only likely to mean one thing. He is trying not to be noticed. He knows that his days are numbered as a leader if he is in any way associated with Jesus. And he apparently is not too sure he wants to be associated with Jesus. He wants more information.
Jesus pushes him to the difference which John presents as existing between light and dark, between truth and falsehood, and which Paul, among the other New Testament authors, presents as being between faith and works. By all his human plans Nicodemus cannot understand how Jesus would save him from sin. By all his striving, Nicodemus cannot find a way to merit God’s forgiveness. There is no scenario in which Nicodemus can conceive of his receiving life.
Jesus’ response is simple. Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, should know it. He receives forgiveness by faith. This is the essence of the Gospel. Forgiveness is not by any means we can devise or execute. It is only by God’s unmerited favor.
Thankfully, Nicodemus will be back later. Jesus is not finished dealing with him, and Nicodemus is not finished dealing with Jesus. The mercy of God does later become evident. May that same mercy of God be revealed to those we speak with every day.
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