I find loose ends quite unsettling. When I’m not told how things end in a story, it is extremely annoying to say the least.
This, of course, makes reading the Bible quite challenging for me because though we know how the MAIN STORY ends, there’s a lot of little plots within the Bible that don’t conclude. And why that’s the case, I’ll never know!
Anyhoo, I arrived at John 3 and felt quite unsettled. John, the author, starts to tell us the story of Nicodemus. And now, I’ll tell it to you but allow me to paraphrase, will you?
Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He wasn’t just any Pharisee — he was a powerful Pharisee, an important Jewish leader who was part of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. Let’s not forget that this is the lot that weren’t fans of Jesus. They were meticulous law followers, Torah Thumpers and Holy Joes. They didn’t have time for riff raff and rumours. They didn’t entertain the idea that perhaps the Messiah they were waiting for was walking around in their midst.
“That guy from Nazareth? Hahahaha, Right!” (That was me doing a great impression of the Pharisees. You’re welcome.)
But Nicodemus… Let’s call him Nick (I’m getting tired typing out his full name, uggh). Nick was on to something. Something peaked his interest in this man Jesus. He was so curious to know more about the signs and wonders that Jesus performed that he sneaked in to talk to Jesus at night. He couldn’t afford to be seen with the eclectic and radical lot that followed Jesus. More importantly, his friends at the Sanhedrin had to be sleeping when he did this.
So, come by night he did and said to Jesus these exact words: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.”
Firstly, he addresses Jesus as Rabbi and this tells me Nick knew that this was no ordinary man. He even affirms that He “knows” that no one could do what Jesus was doing without having God with them.
The rest of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is legen-wait for it-dary. It is where we first hear the phrase “born again” in the Bible, a phrase we so commonly use to brand ourselves. Jesus basically tells Nick that being born again or born by the Spirit is essential to enter the Kingdom of God. He goes on to elaborate in great detail what salvation is and even quotes the infamous piece of Scripture (which is the first bible verse every Sunday School teacher teaches) — John 3:16. You know it, by heart.
Jesus’ long monologue to Nick ends in verse 21 and in verse 22 John says, “After this, Jesus and His disciples went into the Judean countryside…” and goes on to tell us a completely different story.
Erm, John, WHAT? What exactly happened to Nick? You’re not doing a great job at telling us the story if you don’t finish it, okay? Tell us what happened to this sincere seeker. Did he believe in Jesus? Did he become “born again”? What happened NEXT?
So frustrating! The next time we hear of ol’ Nick is in John 19: 39 which says that after Jesus died, it was “Nicodemus, who had previously come to Jesus at night” who brought about seventy-five pounds of a mixture of myrrh and aloes to embalm Jesus.
Again, JOHN, thanks for reminding us who Nicodemus is, we know! But but, tell us again why is he helping embalm Jesus’ body? Is it because he’s born again? Is He doing it because he loves Jesus? Is he saved, John? JUST TELL US THAT, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE.
John, of course, tells us nothing. He’s not reading this blog either so he’s not going to answer these questions. We will never know what happened to Nick. What happened to his life after that is anybody’s guess.
But here’s something I’m thinking about today as I ramble in my journal:
What makes me think I have the right to know if someone who has heard the truth is saved or not? What if my role is speak the message to seekers who come at night (and at day) and just hope that they embrace the truth? Maybe John didn’t think it was important for us to know the end of that story? Maybe the ends of many stories that we start don’t need to be revealed?
I felt peace after thinking that thought. I felt assured that it’s perhaps my role to just help people who are seeking earnestly know what I know and share it with them as intensely as Jesus did. And then, not try and finish their stories. God will take care of that part.
And who knows, maybe one day I will see the faces of every unfinished story I started in heaven?
Maybe I’ll see Nick there, too?
Assuming he got saved in the nick of time? (pun fully intended).
I plan to post musings from my journaling and study on the gospel according to John more regularly on this blog. Please enter your e-mail address below to subscribe and get notified each time I upload something.