Nicodemus is an intriguing person to be approaching Jesus as John describes the scene. We should note that he was a wealthy man. He had Jesus buried in his own tomb and bought costly myrrh and other scents used for burial. He was a Pharisee, one of those Jesus so often battled. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the day. His name suggests he may have belonged to one of the most prestigious families in Jerusalem.
He came to Jesus at night, perhaps to have his whole attention. Nicodemus was impressed, but mostly with the physical healings. As usual, Jesus led him to what he actually needed, the spiritual rebirth.
To be born again is part of the jargon of the evangelical movement and is often used outside the movement with little or no explanation. What did Jesus mean?
Nicodemus was right to ask, ‘how can that happen?’ I think Jesus expected him to ask so that he could contrast the two conditions in which we may live, the physical and the spiritual. By spirit, Jesus meant the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the third part of the Trinity; Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
It was the Holy Spirit that spoke to Abram. The Holy Spirit is the still small voice whispering to us every day. The Holy Spirit is God’s cell phone; it is how He communicates with us, or rather one of the ways.
Why did Abram become Abraham? He responded to the call of that voice. He acted on faith and received a blessing for it; he received Mercy. Abraham was a sinner; he responded to temptation by giving in, just as all of us do.
As an example, imagine a work of art that is so beautiful that it can change a person’s life to own it. I set out to do just that. I work hard and receive a substantial income. I invest wisely and make more money on the markets. When I turn sixty, I take all that money, twenty million dollars, and offer it for the art. The owner laughs and says, ‘not for twenty billion.’
I cannot do enough charitable works to earn the Mercy of God. Only if I am willing to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and live my life more in line with that voice can I dare to hope for eternal life in the Spirit. Only by giving us any hope of earning a place at the Heavenly banquet and accepting on faith that Jesus will be standing at the door and will say, ‘come on in, I’ve been expecting you.’
Be righteous and do good.