John 3:1-17 (NRSV)
Chapter 3Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. Verse 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Verse 3Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Verse 4Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Verse 5Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. Verse 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Verse 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' Verse 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Verse 9Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Verse 10Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Verse 11"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. Verse 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? Verse 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. Verse 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, Verse 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Verse 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Verse 17"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The Pharisee named Nicodemus appears three times in the Gospel of John. His first appearance in today’s reading has him coming to Jesus by night asking deep questions. Nicodemus makes his second appearance in John’s seventh chapter when he advises the chief priests and the other Pharisees to listen to and investigate Jesus before coming to a judgment about him. The third appearance of Nicodemus is when he comes alongside Joseph of Arimathea to take away Christ’s body and prepared it for burial. Nicodemus brings with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds—an excessive amount of balm, reminiscent of royal burials.
Through all these appearances of Nicodemus we see a man growing in faith and love toward Jesus. He came to believe in the person of Jesus and recognized in him God’s love for humanity. He found in Jesus new meaning for his life and hope for the future.
Gracious One, grant that we too may continue to grow in our love and faith in your precious son, so that we may look to the future with hope. Amen.