This morning I was reading the story of Nicodemus, as it's told in John 3. For those of you who aren't familiar with this story, Nicodemus was a Pharisee who lived during the time Jesus was doing His ministry on earth. The Pharisees were a powerful group of people who influenced the Israelites in very significant ways because of the authority they had on spiritual matters. It was the Pharisees who interpreted and applied God’s Law, and it was the Pharisees who made sure everyone was following the applications they set out, and it was the Pharisees who handed out punishment when people didn’t follow those applications.
There was an amazing certainty that the Pharisees lived with, because they were confident in their understanding about who God was, and how He wanted His people to live. So when it came to figuring out how to please God, the answer was very black and white for them - follow the rules they had set up. And that is the approach Nicodemus had taken in his life. But then he heard some of Jesus’ teachings, and all of a sudden, his certainty about how to handle life was gone.
In other words, he thought he knew how to live, but then discovered he didn’t. The result was that he was miserable, and in search of an answer to his problems. That's what led him to seek out Jesus. And when he met Jesus, Nicodemus let his guard down, and opened up his searching and lonely heart. Jesus responded by telling him the Gospel Truth. Nicodemus listened, and then John 3:9 tells us that he responded with this question: “How are these things possible?” In this response, Nicodemus humbled himself before Jesus, and then honestly asked for help. And basically what he said to Jesus was, “I know there's an answer, but I don't know what it is. What do I need to do?”
And this is why I love the story of Nicodemus so much. His response shows us how we need to approach Jesus when we have problems in life. For example, there have been times in my own life when I've tried to control certain challenges in my life, or to understand how God was working, or struggled to feel joy or peace or hope. And every time that I tried to come up with an answer to solve whatever problem I was facing, or when I tried to second-guess God on what He was doing, or I tried to create peace and hope on my own, it didn't work. And that’s because I wasn’t following Nicodemus’ example of humbling myself before God and saying, “I can’t figure this out - help me!” But the times that I did follow his example, God met me right where I was - with my little bit of faith - and filled my life with hope and peace, as He showed me the way forward. Just like He did with Nicodemus.
And what God did for Nicodemus - and for me - He can, and will, do for each and every one of us. So today, let's follow Nicodemus' example and seek out Jesus. Let's sit at His feet and open our hearts up - letting Him know our struggles and burdens. And then let's give Him the opportunity to be at work in our hearts - meeting every need, and filling every empty space.