Seeking the safety of darkness
Text study on John 3:1-17 Lectionary text for March 20, 2011
Nicodemus has received a bad rap for going to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Here was a man of authority -- as a member of the powerful Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, he helped determine the fate of others in his community.
He was well respected yet he was afraid, so he came to Jesus under the cover of darkness. What could his fears have been? What are our fears?
Nicodemus was not the first to move under the cover of darkness to meet Jesus and he was not the last. The names of some who secretly met Jesus did not make it into the Bible the same way Nicodemus’ did.
We can deduce from the stories of men like James and John and even Peter that the abandoning of their nets did not happen as instantaneously as it sounds. They may have secretly observed Jesus before reaching the decision at sea.
There are people today who are still meeting Jesus under the cover of darkness. At the age of 10, my curiosity led me to run away from home for the first time. I ran away (under the cover of darkness) to meet Jesus, although I did not realize it at the time.
Friends had reported to me that a missionary was coming to town once a month to meet with Christians on the other side of town. What piqued my interest was that this missionary showed pictures on the wall and if you were lucky you would see yourself on the wall. It was a slide show. I wanted to see myself on the wall.
So I ran away from home one night, under the cover of darkness. I couldn’t stop myself after that -- I ran away once a month.
Running away from home was scary. I was violating two rules of the home: leaving home without Dad’s permission and associating with "those liars" -- Dad’s words.
But nothing was going to stand between me and those life-giving words. In the end, my interest in the slides waned. I had more desire for the word about God’s love for me and what God had accomplished for me in Christ.
Nicodemus was a grown man in authority. But his seeking a new birth had risks.
Physical birth has risks even in the Western world. Being born again spiritually is not without risks, either. Jesus met Nicodemus under the cover of darkness because it felt safer for Nicodemus -- and he was changed for the rest of this life (See John 7:50-51; 19:38-40).
• What do you risk when you receive new life in Christ today?
• How has your transformation in Christ led you to take risks in your life of faith?
D. Jensen Seyenkulo, Ph.D., has served as a pastor in the Metropolitan Chicago Synod for the past 15 years. He is CEO of The Kuwaa Mission, a partnership among the Lutheran Church in Liberia and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ELCA and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations, groups and individuals who want to help the Kuwaa people in Liberia, West Africa.