Questions are a great way of learning. If you don’t ask you don’t find out.
Jesus and Nicodemus
3 There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2 One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!”
4 Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”
5 Jesus answered:
I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. 6 Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7 Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. 8 Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied:
How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? 11 I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. 12 If you don’t believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?
13 No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. 14 And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. 15 Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!
Nicodemus is a man with questions. He wants to know more, he wants to understand what it is that Jesus is saying and offering.
Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus has been sent by God to teach us. He’s clearly been listening very carefully because he is now asking his supplementary questions to what Jesus has already taught.
What I love about Nicodemus is he’s not afraid to ask questions of Jesus. As a young christian in the early 80s I was fed the “this is what we believe” theory. I know there has to be a place for teaching and grasping the fundamentals, but we also need to be able to chew and swallow them for ourselves. We need to think around them, talk to people of varied opinions (and that is where social media is so useful!), and come to our own conclusions.
I shudder at the time I thought I knew all the answers. The older I get the more shades of grey I realise there are. That is not a cop-out, or being wishy-washy, it is an honest attempt to try to relate faith to real life. To try and live how Jesus would, not how another christian says I should.
If Nicodemus had not asked these questions of Jesus, we would not have these famous words, enshrined for us Jesus understanding of how much God loved the world.
Because Nicodemus tussled with what Jesus said, he was able to come to a fuller understanding of what Jesus meant and what he was about – and it is shared with us too.
And if you’re ever tempted to sit in judgement on someone because of what they don’t believe, or are questioning, remember,
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! (v17)
Thank you Lord
that you are big enough to take our questions,
that you long for us to explore
what it is you are saying,
what we need to do.
Thank you that you listen patiently,
and gently lead us on.
I bring my questions to you,
and thank you for your answers.