Short Meditations in John 3: 2. Open but Unsure
Jn 3:2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
It is interesting to note how people approach other people when they are unsure of them. We noted previously the things Nicodemus had going for him – he’s a good Jew, a conservative believer who strongly defends the Old Testament and he’s a respected leader. But we also noted that such things can also be drawbacks and although Nicodemus, as a leader, probably knows how to deal with people he’s probably heard sufficient about Jesus to have a number questions and he doesn’t want to go like a bull in a china shop and make him defensive, hence he addresses Jesus as ‘Rabbi’ or teacher, a title of respect. He needs to move slowly with this man and feel his way along.
But there is another aspect of his coming to Jesus and that is in respect of those of his contemporaries who he has left behind. He’s fairly sure they would not be happy with him coming and talking with this man and it is probably for this reason that he comes after dark to seek out Jesus. This way he is less likely to be seen and the word get back to the rest of the ruling council. In the UK it’s a bit like a Labour MP going to have secret talks with the Conservative Chief Whip or, in America, a leading Republican going to have secret talks with the Democrat President. It’s all a bit under cover – at least from his side of things.
So Nicodemus comes like a diplomat, gently feeling his way: “we know you are a teacher who has come from God.” Always appeal to a man’s vanity – except if he is the Son of God, but Nicodemus doesn’t realise that yet, but he does realise there is something special about Jesus, “For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Yes, he’s heard and he’s willing to believe that much of what he’s heard may be true, and even if a bit of it is true, something special is going on here!
Now this is something that any seeker of the truth should face. Here we have a book – the Bible – filled with incredible accounts of the activities of God and of His Son, and then His church. If even only ten per cent of them were true that is incredible and would scream the truth, but when we look at these accounts rationally, we have no good cause to write them off. If we come with an open mind, as Bible translator-cum-sceptic, J.B.Phillips, said, they have a “ring of truth” about them. It was that “ring of truth” that brought Nicodemus as a seeker after the truth. Is that how you come?