Have any babies been born into your family lately? Did the family gather to talk about potential names for the newborn? Every time a child (male or female) is born in our family, I make a pitch for the name to be something simple like Randall William. But no one ever agrees with me! I do know that good biblical names are always popular. Joshua, David, Mary, Paul will frequently hit the top ten list but I do not know a single child named Nicodemus. If the name is Nick, it probably is Nicholas (as in St. Nicholas!). No one ever uses Nicodemus. I wonder why. Maybe it is because his words were spoken softly from the shadows. Perhaps it is because he did not seem to understand what was really happening when Jesus began to teach. Or it might be a problem with his ability to listen. I do not know all the issues but I do know that his conversation with Jesus created the perfect setting for John the Apostle to write a powerful reality. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It is the heart of the gospel! It is a truth for the ages! It is the reason we are making our way through Advent. We are on track to intersect with the love of God that was born in Bethlehem. We are waiting for the child who would be named Jesus.
John 3:1-17 3
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus* by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ 3Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’* 4Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ 5Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.* 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You* must be born from above.”* 8The wind* blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ 9Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ 10Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 ‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you* do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.* 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.* 16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.