The Entombment of Christ Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Bit Parts in the Easter Story – Nicodemus


Nicodemus – John  3, 7, 19:28-42

“So that guy Jesus was teaching at Sukkot.  He was saying the most amazing stuff.”

“We heard.  You’re a temple guard, why didn’t you arrest him?”

“Why would I arrest him for teaching scripture?”

“Why didn’t you arrest him for speaking against us?”

“Ummm…”

So that part isn’t in entirely there and 100% of scholars that I consulted on the issue agree that it isn’t in there.

 

We meet Nicodemus three times in John.

The first time is a secret meeting, to avoid prying eyes and ears.  This well-known Pharisee shows up to speak to Jesus.

He’s there to talk deep.  He’s there to ask questions.  He’s there because the law that he has followed religiously for years seems insufficient next to this Rabbi.  Next to the incredible signs and wonders Jesus is doing, Nicodemus’ practices and his traditions seem to fade away.

Most likely, he has to meet with Jesus at night to avoid being seen.  These things have a way of getting back to the Council.  And if the council found out, he could be ruined personally and politically.

He met with Jesus at night because he was afraid of the very law he swore to uphold.

The second time, Nicodemus is defending Jesus.  Jesus has just been at The Festival of Tabernacles, teaching incredible things.  The crowds there as him about his teaching and he tells them it is directly from God.  Naturally, they get upset.  The implication is that other teaching… is from somewhere else.  Jesus asks some poignant questions that ruffle some very specific feathers.  Nicodemus is the only person to speak in Jesus’ defense.

The third time is a very different scenario.  There will be no conversation with Jesus.  There is no defending a dead man.  In fact, there is no record that anything is said at all.

Joseph of Arimathea gets Pilate’s permission to take Jesus body for burial.  He and Nicodemus meet at the cross, take down the body and take it to a nearby garden and a tomb within it.

Nicodemus brings along seventy-five pounds of burial supplies including aloe, spices and linens.  Without a word, the men prepare Jesus’ body for burial.

With the broken body of the Lord on the cross, anybody and almost everybody could have walked away.  Many did.   In their eyes, it wasn’t just a body that was broken, but also a promise.  Not so with Nicodemus.  There was always more to be done.

There’s a profound and unique witness in Nicodemus.  If it began as fear, it’s different now.  It’s changed.  What Nicodemus found when teacher met with teacher was something greater than the law to which he had given his life.  He walked in to challenge his thinking and walked away a completely changed man.

Because there’s something about meeting Jesus truly and deeply that is nothing short of transformational.  When you can look at faith and at law at the same time, there is no comparison.

Faith transformed Nicodemus.  It pushed him.It pushed him to dig deeply into his own heart and to challenge his understanding.

It pushed him to defend what is right when others want what is convenient.

It pushed him to stand up when all sense and logic are telling him to protect and preserve himself.

And it pushed him to worship to the end.  It pushed him to finish the job.

 

Push forward friends.

Dig deeply.

Defend.

Stand up.

Finish what has been started.

Chris

Chris

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