“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus… this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher… Jesus answered… “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:1-2
It is an easy thing for people to possess a private faith. In fact, the increasing push from the government and society at large for a private faith, and the attempt to oust religion from the public square makes it the social norm for people to have a private faith, rather than a public one. People who have a public faith, the Christian faith in particular, are seen as socially malignant. While the spiritually spineless wilt under such circumstances, conforming to prevailing social trends, the fact is that some remain as ardent spiritual seekers – though perhaps under cover.
Such was the case with Nicodemus, a well know ruler among the Pharisees, in the earthly days of Jesus. He was a seeker of the truth. However, for fear of the social norm he lived under, his seeking of truth, and perhaps practice, was covert. This man who sought Jesus came to Jesus after night had fallen. It is clear that his coming by night was not a matter of convenience, but a matter of his pride and social standing being at stake. He did not want to fall into the bad books of the rest of the Pharisees, his colleagues, who abhorred Jesus. Nicodemus did not come by day because he would be seen, and what a shameful thing to be seen in the presence of Jesus! But his coming by night is indicative not only of his sense of shame, but also of the spiritual night he was in. Indeed, this man was touted as a spiritual teacher, but his spiritual sight was near dead in the dark of spiritual night. Knowing this, Jesus, instead of affirming Nicodemus’ statement about His identity, proceeds to what lay beneath the surface. Nicodemus, in spiritual night, could not see the kingdom of God. And that is why Jesus gives Him the prescription to see clearly. Unless Nicodemus was born again, he could not see the kingdom of God. To be born again, would mean coming to the light (3:21). It is in the light, after his spiritual conversion, that he would be able to see. To be converted, and come to the light, would require a work of the Spirit of God (3:5), not a human feat. Nicodemus, it seems, eventually came to the light, shed his private devotion to Jesus, and came publicly to bury the body of our Lord (John 19:39). It was the Lord’s death that caused the Sun to shine brightest upon Nicodemus’ life, and he saw.
My friend, are you someone who visits Jesus under cover of night? That is to say, are you ashamed to visit in the day light, when everyone is watching? Are you a private seeker, yet a public conformist? Beware then that you may well be in the spiritual night of your life, and you will stumble for lack of light. But even in your state of being ashamed, continue to meet the Lord. Whether you come covertly or overtly, He gives you the truth. He is the Truth. He gives you the light. He is the Light. And when He shines the light, He will help you to see, so that you are translated from the darkness of a private, unsure, and ashamed of faith, to the light of a public, and confident faith. Only in the light Jesus shines can you see heaven. Only in Jesus will all the spiritual fantasies which elude you be made an absolutely tangible reality. This teacher, ruler, and socialite needed to come to Jesus to enter heaven. So do you, if you never have come. Come to Jesus dear reader, and let your night be turned to day.