"God Who Answers"
I stood graveside while the preacher shared the only truth that can ease the sting of death. The truth of a God who allowed His son to die, so that the only separation humanity would have to experience would be a temporal one.
“ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” -John 3:16-17
Might be saved.
The passage was a familiar one. But one I seldom read in context. He went on to recount the story of Jesus being confronted with a burning question by a good man on a dark road. A pharisee in fact, who made his livelihood by studying and memorizing the Biblical law. A man named Nicodemus who knew the law but didn’t know the Author of that Law. Intrigued by Truth he didn’t quite understand, Nicodemus waited to approach Jesus with his burning question until it was dark and he could be sure to protect his reputation. A childlike question left his lips that made a scholarly man like himself appear simple.
“How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?”
Nicodemus’ question beckoned that infamous answer from Jesus found in John 3:16. An answer that would be burned into the minds of generations to come. And that’s when the preacher made the remark next to the freshly dug earth that grabbed my attention.
“Frankly, I’m just glad he asked the question.”
He grinned and I thought, You know what? Me too.
Even under the cover of night, when Nicodemus questioned, Jesus didn’t sigh and shame him for his confusion. His vulnerability wasn’t met with sarcasm or frustration. Jesus just answered. And frankly? I’m sure Jesus was glad Nicodemus asked.
It isn’t clear how this conversation in the middle of the night ended. The story abruptly moves on to another day in the timeline of Jesus. But if you look closer, in a few chapters, we see Nicodemus again in John 19 right after Jesus had been crucified.
“And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury….
There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day…”
On the night in the dark street just 16 chapters previous, Jesus prophesied to the pharisee Nicodemus that the Son of God would have to be lifted up. (Jn 3:14) And when it was fulfilled, Nicodemus was there with Joseph in the light of day, prepared to help bury the answer to that prophecy. He no longer came to Jesus armed with questions, but with gifts of extravagance, honor and reverence.
His question had led to an answer, which brought him to a fulfillment. And I promise he was never the same.
Can I encourage you to ask your questions? Seek Him and ask. He knows our thoughts before we do, He isn’t surprised when the words finally escape our lips. He sees our fears, and our confusions… our doubts and our anxiety. He knows them better than we do ourselves. So ask. Ask your questions, and when you are done, ask Him to help fill the gaps where you lack faith. Let your question beckon a response, and then with raised hands wrap those questions in a prayer of “help Thou mine unbelief” (Mk 9:24). Because He will. While we may not get the clear and immediate answer Nicodemus received, we can find comfort in knowing that He welcomes our questions and can give the faith to wait for the answer, either on earth or in Heaven.
He is God who answered Nicodemus, and God who answers me.
As long as it takes for my heart to find a song,
ARH Staff Writer
"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart." Psalm 119:2