Nicodemus enters his Un-comfort Zone.
The passages from John’s Gospel (John 3:1-21) read in the Mass during the past several days offer a magnificent display of Jesus Christ’s powerful use of language and psychology in the conversion of Nicodemus. Jesus, the Divine Rabbi, pushes poor Nicodemus into his “Un-Comfort Zone”.Here is the full passage from John Chapter 3:
 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode’mus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “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.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicode’mus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to 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.  Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.’  The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”  Nicode’mus said to him, “How can this be?”  Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this?  Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Greatest Orator and Rabbi who has ever lived, for no one can approach God in greatest in any attribute.
While the full richness of these passages are beyond the scope of this post, consider some of the brilliance on display in Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus:
- Nicodemus is a respected leader within the Sanhedrin and a Pharisee. He is used to commanding respect wherever he goes. He is a confident man, a man schooled in the Law of the Old Testament, perhaps a scholar.
- Despite his great knowledge, Nicodemus is intrigued.
- Nicodemus has come at night, perhaps because as a leading Pharisee, he is afraid to be seen with Jesus. But he does come, not as a spy, but as someone who truly is seeking to understand the Mysterious Jesus Christ. Perhaps prudent, perhaps cowardly, Nicodemus comes under the cover of darkness.
- Jesus, always aware of hearts and minds, reveals to Nicodemus just how little he knows. When Jesus speaks, Nicodemus is left with only questions and confusion: “How can a man be born again?” “How can this be?”
- Jesus, unafraid to rebuke and expose ignorance, says to the highly respected Nicodemus: “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this?”
- We can only imagine the turmoil that Nicodemus is feeling at this rebuke by Jesus; confusion, intrigue, resentment, desperation in the feeling that all that Nicodemus has learned is insufficient.
- Poor Nicodemus has been seriously thrown out of his comfort zone.
But even more discomfort comes when Jesus says:
 “He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.”
- Recall that Nicodemus has come at night and now Jesus is using darkness and light to discuss the Salvation of man, and the Salvation of Nicodemus directly.
- It is Nicodemus who is uncertain about Christ.
- It is Nicodemus who has come under the cover of darkness, afraid of the Light of Christ.
- It is Nicodemus who does not wish his discussions with Jesus to be exposed.
- It is Nicodemus who Christ is saying will be judged.
Jesus Christ, by offering direction to Nicodemus, offers direction to the ages. In His Divine Brilliance, Christ teaches using powerful imagery and heart-stirring words that change hearts.
Despite the confusion that Nicodemus experiences in this discussion with Jesus, the powerful words of Christ enter deeply into his heart and mind.
Nicodemus is converted by his contact with Jesus, later seeking to prevent Jesus’ arrest (John 7:50-51) and sadly, helps Joseph of Armanthea to prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:38-42).
Hearing and wrestling with the words of Christ should make us uncomfortable. For we so often are living in Sin and Christ’s words both call us to repentance and teach of the consequences for unrepentant Sin.
While up to now, perhaps you have been reading this as a recollection about Nicodemus and Jesus. In reality, it is about you and Jesus. We all are Nicodemus in some way.
Hearing the words of Christ, we too must be born again. Let us begin again anew today.