March 31, 2018

John 7:37-52, John 3:1-21, John 19:38-42
Nicodemus’ Story, by Missy Iley

I could feel my face and ears turning bright red. My heart was beating in my throat, and my hands were freezing cold. I had to say something. I know the smart thing would have been to say nothing, but I had learned too much. I knew Jesus was the Christ. But I was not ready to give up everything for him ... yet!

Although it had been almost two years, I had never been able to get the conversation out of my mind. I had gotten wind of where he was spending the evening, and I very resolutely decided I had to speak to him. So, under the cloak of darkness, I found myself in the most confusing and convicting conversation of my life. I recall thinking, “Seriously, how can a grown man be born again? It just wasn't logical.” I left his presence in total defeat. But being a man of reason and a life-long student, I went home and wrote down everything Jesus had said. And over the next two years, I poured over the Holy Scriptures, trying to make sense of what he said that night. I looked at the prophecies about the promised Messiah. As I read, I discovered Jesus met every single criterion the prophets had foretold. He was Emmanuel.

But I was a coward that day at the feast when the guards gave us their excuses for not being able to arrest Jesus. All I could muster was the meager, “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” I had never been so disappointed in myself. But you’ve got to understand, if I told my fellow Pharisees I was becoming a Christ-follower, my life as I knew it would be over; I would lose everything!

Right before dusk the day Jesus was crucified, I was startled by a frantic knocking at my door. It was a colleague named Joseph. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. Joseph said, “I know I’m risking a lot by asking this, but do you believe Jesus to be the Messiah ... our Messiah?”

I was stunned. Was this a trap? Joseph seemed to have read my thoughts. He looked deep into my eyes and said, “I heard you defend him that day. I believe Jesus is the One, and I believe you do too.”

“I do,” I said before I could stop myself. “He is!”

“I need your help. He needs my tomb.”

“Your what?”

“I have a tomb and I asked Pilate if I could bury Jesus in it before nightfall.”

“But that will mean you won’t be clean.... I ... I won’t be clean.”

“I don’t think that’s going to matter anymore. Come, we must hurry.”

The body was a gruesome sight. I almost became ill. Then I found myself quoting the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.... After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied!”

As I spoke God’s Word, I realized the story was not over yet. I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end, but I knew Joseph and I were playing the parts we both had been born to play.

Our hearts were changed. And now after holding Jesus in our arms, we would never be able to go back to our old lives. Honestly, why would I want to go back to life enslaved to The Law and the traditions of man? It was at that moment I realized exactly how a grown man could be born again.