Introduction: in John 3:1-7, we meet Nicodemus a Pharisee who was eager to meet Jesus to clarify his doubts of faith and to know the truth. So, pay attention to the dialogue and the attitudes that can identified between them. Ask yourself, does the story of Nicodemus tell something about me?
Give me the grace to know the person of
your Son Jesus, his vision and his mission
so that I may commit myself entirely to him
and your plan of Salvation.
- Read the Gospel of John 3:1-7; read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action.
Concluding your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a Jewish ruler who played an important role in the Sanhedrin, a council of the 70 elders, who ruled the Jewish people with authority making sure they would keep the law and the tradition. This council did not accept Jesus but considered him as an impostor and hated him. Nicodemus was an exception he was different than the other Pharisees, he was more open and flexible to learn from outside Jewish circles. But despite his knowledge of Jesus who “came from God” (v.2), he still has his doubts about him. In his personal meeting with Jesus marked the beginning of Nicodemus’ journey of believing in the Son of God.
Central Message: …Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night…said ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who comes from God; for no one could perform the signs that you do unless God were with him’…Jesus answered ‘unless a man is born form above he cannot see the Kingdom of God’…How can a grown man be born? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?…Jesus replied ‘unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God’…’Do not be surprise when I say You must be born from above’…
a) …’Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night’: Nicodemus had a good reputation in the council of the elders for being a faithful, honest and pious Jew, he wanted to meet Jesus but he feared being seen by his fellow Pharisees and to lose his reputation. So he decided to go at night to meet Jesus without being seen. Nicodemus was an educated Jew and well verse in the Law of God. He thought he understood the things of God but he wanted to clarify his doubts about the man Jesus from Nazareth. This text is interpreted that Nicodemus wanted to emerge from darkness to light, from his ignorance to knowledge, from blindness to the truth, from death to life. He was journeying towards the Truth and the Light, that is towards Jesus Christ (John 8:12), marking the beginning of his journey of faith starting believing in Jesus Son of God who was sent to save the world.
b) “No one could perform the signs that you do unless God were with him’: Nicodemus, somehow heard of the signs and miracles that Jesus did and he was astonished by it and he wanted to meet Jesus to talk about it and to hear from Jesus the truth. He recognised Jesus as a teacher (Rabi) ‘the one who comes from God and does the things of God’ which is the meaning of his statement ‘unless God is with him’. By Jesus’ reply we understand that Nicodemus wanted to see some signs: ‘to see the signs of the kingdom of Heaven, because his faith is like the one of Thomas, “unless I see the holes that the nails made…and put my hand into his side, I refused to believe” (John 20:25). Nicodemus’ faith in the Messiah was still weak, he also needed a miracle to believe. The conversation with Jesus helped him to clarify more about his identity as Messiah and his mission, his humanity and his divinity, different from what he used to know traditionally. Jesus also opened in him the possibility to know him deeply, and by knowing him to believe in him and by believing in him to love him and become his disciples.
c) ‘Unless a man is born form above he cannot see the Kingdom of God’: Being curious about the signs of the kingdom is one thing and having faith in the Son of God is another thing. Although he knew something about him it was not enough to believe in him but something else is needed. Jesus knows that Nicodemus (his potential disciple) is genuinely searching for something and that it is already a step forward to see the kingdom of God present in Jesus. Jesus, as the perfect Master, gently guides and teaches Nicodemus who does not understand his symbolic language, ‘to see and enter the kingdom of God he must be born from above’ …through water and spirit”. In other words he must change his arguments, his learned theories of the Messiah, his religious instruction of the past and be opened to the Holy Spirit. He needs a total conversion of mind and heart and to do that he must to put aside, first of all, his own certainties originated from his organized religion with its laws and traditions, and secondly, his securities grounded in his position in society and in the Sanhedrin, so that he can surrender himself totally to the Spirit who is the only one who know where to go.
Some questions for our reflexion:
- What does the story of Nicodemus tell about you in relation to Jesus?
- What do you need to put aside in your life and be opened to the Holy Spirit to guide you where he wants you to go?