Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night…(John 3:1)
I love this scene from the Bible. Nicodemus seeks Jesus out to ask him questions—Is he truly from God? Could he really be the Messiah?
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
Jesus responds to Nicodemus with confronting words—how will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
Nicodemus must have been surprised and perhaps a little put off by Jesus’ remark. Jesus must know he’s a Pharisee, set apart for God’s work, it’s his job to teach others about spiritual matters. Nicoldemus is used to being treated with respect, honor, even condescension.
“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3: 10-16 (NIV)
We aren’t told in this chapter if Nicodemus believes Jesus is the Christ, but he shows up after Jesus’ crucifixion and is referred to as a follower.
Jesus makes many claims in this conversation with Nicodemus—he came from heaven, he will be lifted up, belief in him will bring eternal life!
We will all experience a physical death. The thought of death triggers fear of pain and suffering, grief to loved ones, an end of consciousness, possible judgement and condemnation.
But the thought of eternal life is appealing to everyone. We work very hard to extend our lives. Jesus claims to have the key to eternal life and says the only condition is belief.
If we all want to live forever and the only cost is believing in Jesus, why do so many hesitate?
Jesus said many things which people didn’t want to hear or believe and they stopped following him.
But what about you?
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69 (NIV)