Names are important to us. We become identified through our name. People mention your name and they identify who you are. They see you, the way you look, the color of your hair, [though that may change] what you are known for, and many other characteristics.

The Bible is full of names, and we associate them with events. I mention the name Daniel, and immediately I see him in the lion’s den. I mention Moses and I see him leading Israel out of Egypt. The list goes on.
I mention Nicodemus, and I see the blank look on your face as you try to locate him. Not many people who met or interacted with Jesus are named, but Nicodemus is. His only appearance in the Bible is the only time recorded that he met Jesus, and he gets his name published in history.

Who is Nicodemus? He fades into history except for this one incident. We know that he was wealthy. How do we know that? It was Nicodemus who must have been somewhere near the cross at Jesus’ death. It was he, who after Jesus was dead, went to the market and bought one pound of spice to embalm the body of Jesus. Did you read that right? One hundred pounds of a mixture of myrrh and aloes and a very costly price would be attached to that. We also know that Nicodemus was also a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the best of the best of the Jews. They were wealthy, they comprised the Jewish council of leaders called the Sanhedrin [70 of them], and there were only 6000 of them in all Jewry. They were a very elite group.

One of the facets of this story [told in John 3] is how he met Jesus. He came at night. The time of day that he chose, was probably due to who he was and the prestige he carried. Due to his position among other Jews, he would not want to be seen with the Jewish Rabbi from Galilee during daylight. So, he seeks Jesus out at night.
It is what he said to Jesus is that gives us great insight into this man. He had been watching and listening to Jesus. His opening words that night are, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with Him”. So, Nicodemus has been observing Jesus.

Jesus pays no attention to Nicodemus’s prestigious character. His answer contains a sentence that has been debated through history. Jesus merely says, “Truly truly, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. This is the only place in the entire Bible that this phrase, “born again” is used. This phrase has been kicked around by religious leaders, philosophers, and even politicians, ever since it was uttered by Jesus. It is a hard phrase to grasp. We are born once, physically, given a name, and identified as a citizen. How can I go through that twice?

Nicodemus asks the same question you and I ask. How can I be born since I am old? How can a man enter his mother’s womb and go through this same process? Jesus answers his and our question “Truly, truly, I say unto you unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God; That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.”

This all may sound a bit mystical, but Jesus says something that either confuses the issue more or may solve the issue. He says: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from, and you do not know where it is going. So is everyone born of the Spirit”.

Nicodemus is confused and says, “how can these things be”? In the reply of Jesus, he basically says that these things cannot be figured out by the human mind. It is the work of God, mystical as the blowing wind.
It is true that we must be “born anew” to get into God’s kingdom. That birth is not physical, nor is it cognitive, or intellectual, something I learn from the academy or any other source of the world. This rebirth is a miracle. I do not know if Nicodemus understood that or not. He was convinced enough to be at the place of crucifixion, and with Joseph of Arimathea, took the body of Jesus from the cross and embalmed it with 100 pounds of Myrrh and aloes.

The Bible places so much distinction between the head and the heart. The heart is not spoken of as the center of our circulation system but as a place seat of our emotions and the very center of our being. There are many people who believe in the head the fact of the New Testament. They know the ethical side of the bible. However, they have never been “born” into a new kingdom, the very kingdom of God. In this rebirth, the very life of God Himself comes to live with them. The Bible in other places calls this “transformation.” We are literally “born” into God’s family. This is what Jesus means when he said to Nicodemus, “…unless one is born of water [the human process of birth] and the Spirit [the divine process] he cannot enter into the kingdom of God…”

As Nicodemus in pondering all of this, Jesus enlarges on the process of rebirth. In this exchange with Nicodemus, Jesus states one of the truths that is one of the most profound in the Bible. He says, “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.” In this nutshell of one sentence, Jesus tells this Jewish leader the essence of the entire Bible. God gave us His Son, to bear our guilt so that we may have His life. Our sins are forgiven.
In this account I find;
The greatest being, God;
The greatest thing, Love;
The greatest creation; world;
The greatest gift; His Son;
The greatest action; belief;
The greatest tragedy; perish;
The greatest experience; eternal life.

Nicodemus, I’m not sure how far you took this encounter with Jesus, but I want to thank you for spending that night with Him. As Jesus answered you, it tells me that I can experience rebirth and receive the gift of eternal life.

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