"He came to Jesus at night" (John 3:2)
In today's Gospel, Jesus chats with an after–dark follower Nicodemus. He is the timid disciple who comes to Jesus at night (John 3:2). Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a respectable person and because of his position in society, he was afraid to be seen associating with Jesus. He had heard about Jesus, which is why he said, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him" (John 3:2). Now, out of curiosity he comes to meet Jesus. Though Nicodemus' act seems cowardly, we should not be hard on him. In fact, he was risking his reputation by going to see Jesus, the untrained teacher from Galilee. It definitely took him a great deal of courage to go in the first place.
Jesus already knew what was bothering Nicodemus and why the odd-hour visit. Jesus' conversation is on spiritual terms whereas Nicodemus sees things through the tainted earthly perspective. "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" (John 3:4). Jesus answered him and said, 'No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit' (John 3:5-6). Flesh is the human nature, our human nature is depraved, fallen nature under Adam. Depraved man can have a son only in his likeness but man must become God's children to enter God’s kingdom. Hence, we need to be born again spiritually. Spiritual birth is possible only through baptism (water and the Holy Spirit) [Read the baptism of Jesus, Matthew 3:16].
Surely that night changed Nicodemus' life, we don’t know when he decided to follow Jesus, but he defended Jesus against his own fellow Pharisees (John 7:50-52). Maybe Nicodemus continued to stand on the sidelines and watch Jesus as he travelled through the region, teaching and performing miracles. He was a closet Christian but not forever. If you are a follower of Christ, you cannot hide for long. A time will come when you have to take a stand. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were 'under cover' for a couple of years but the time arrived when they had to make that ultimate decision if they wanted to see heaven. They braved Pilate's wrath and asked for the body of Jesus to have a proper burial. It was through the Holy Spirit that the Pharisee forsakes what the world says and steps out in faith.
Sadly too many of us are Xerox copies of the old Nicodemus. We worry about the opinion of the person next door more than that of Jesus. Too long, we have been undercover disciples. The time has come for us to take a stand on what we believe and to break free of our restraints. Let us step out in faith and live our lives in such a way that we stand out as Jesus’ disciples.
“Lord Jesus, I know that pride and prestige have ruled most part of my life. I have been a reluctant follower afraid what the world might think and say. Forgive me Lord, for all the times I’ve been ashamed to profess my faith.”