Nick at Night

It’s one of the most famous stories from the Gospels – the story of a religious leader who has a nighttime meeting with Jesus – where Jesus cryptically conveys the scope and power of his plan – where those famous words were uttered: “For God so loved the world…”.

We’ll be reading John 3:1-21 this Sunday.

I actually did a version of this in my webcomic Rabbi Encounters – you can read it HERE.

While v16 of this section is probably very familiar – much of what surrounds that text is pretty mysterious stuff. Nick wasn’t the only one who got confused – scholars have had multiple interpretations about some of the things Jesus says here for more than a thousand years.

It says the Nick is a ruler of the Judeans – which means he’s on the Sanhedrin. That being the case, he must have been well older than Jesus, a respected man in the community as well as the temple, and he must have been a person from a wealthy family. What do you think was going through his mind as he met with this young, homeless Rabbi from the sticks?

Based on what he says, does he seem friendly or hostile to you? By the end of the gospel, in ch7 and ch19, he clearly becomes a disciple.

Jesus’ answers certainly don’t fit the paradigm that Nick tries to set up. Jesus talks spiritual rebirth and Nick talks obstetrics…it’s sort of a mess.

In trying to make sense of Jesus’ statements about being born of water and spirit, read Ezekial 36:25-26 – what insight, if any, does this give you about what Jesus may be referring to?

What condition does Jesus put on receiving eternal life? What does this condition mean to you?

Read v17. Read it again. If God’s purpose is not to condemn the world, how do you understand v18-21? (read it in the Message…it really helps to make sense of what is being said).

God’s purpose is not to condemn – how well do you think the church has presented that truth? How can we better embody what the gospel message is?

I’m really looking forward to Sunday – see you there!

One comment

  1. When I read this passage, I keep on thinking of roaches scattering when a light comes on. Sometimes with our human minds we can only fathom that we are like that for God – just little nuisances that He regrets creating, and the only way to please Him or escape with our life, or have some form of pleasure is to run away and hide. Surely this is a lie that our enemy has been feeding us since the beginning. We are made in God’s image, but far from it in the capacity of how much He can Love, and how much He loves us. What is awesome about the light that God gives, is although it can be jarring and scary at first, we can bask in it and absorb it, and eventually become more and more closer to the image of its Maker.
    I think Nick’s problem is not unlike my own, where sometimes hiding feels the most safe, and I suppose temporarily and for our humanness sake, it is. God is kind of dangerous, and fully following Him can cost what people look at as “everything.” Looking at this world on different terms where the eternal life with Christ trumps every Earthly pleasure can be hard – but I think Jesus was explaining that it is possible and important. More likely in my opinion He was saying, “Look, I am God looking You in the face, and if you can understand that and see what I have been doing and understanding it as supernatural, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that nothing else, including fleshly desires and understanding, matters.”

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