NICODEMUS VISITS JESUS UNDER THE COVER OF DARK
Why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit with Jesus? This is a question that has been debated by scholars for centuries, and unfortunately, the scriptures do not give us a crystal clear and compelling answer. However, what we do know is this, “Nicodemus is a Pharisee at the top of his field. Not only is he a member of the Sanhedrin, he is the most renowned Bible teacher of his day. We also know that the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups. Two of the most prominent groups were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the centuries. As a “leader,” he was a member of the Jewish ruling council. Although the Romans controlled Israel politically, the Jews were given some authority over religious and minor civil disputes. The Jewish ruling body was the council made up of seventy-one of Israel’s religious leaders.
The question before us is still, “why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit Jesus and
what motivated him to come in the first place?” Under the cover of darkness, this well respected and influential religious man, this prominent national leader of noble decent and inherited wealth, this intellectual man who wielded great religious authority, this designated secret spokesman who represented some of his colleagues from the Jewish ruling council, waits until the cover of darkness to sneak in for a visit with Jesus. This remains me of the way some of us prefer to do things [under the cover of darkness].
However, this question still rattles our brain, but from what we understand from scripture, we can try and fill in some of the blanks. First, we know that Nicodemus was both impressed and curious about Jesus and chose to form his opinions about him from the firsthand conversation. Second, it is possible that he did not want to be seen with Jesus in broad daylight because he feared reproach from his fellow Pharisees (who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah). Finally, it might not have been fear that brought Nicodemus in the cover of dark; but it is possible that he chose a time when he could talk alone and at length with the popular teacher who was often surrounded by people.
No matter how we look at this question, how we think about it as it might relate to us, it still remains that Nicodemus chose the cover of dark to visit with Jesus. However, what Nicodemus did not know are understand was that his own night was blacker than he knew. He was living in complete darkness and he did not know that truth, was about to be revealed to him.
Now as he sit before the Master Teacher, this is what Jesus tells him, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”
What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions. There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth. The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out. The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness. Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.
According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives. Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful. Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night under the cover of darkness with a meeting with the Master Teacher.
In closing, I leave you with this question, “Are you a modern day Nicodemus, living in the darkness, and seeking answers?” Know that it is time to open yourself up and be exposed to God’s shining light. Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.
Wednesday’s lesson part 2 will focus on what Jesus told Nicodemus in his secret meeting under the cover of dark.