This morning we looked at John chapter 3 with the inevitable question that arises from Nicodemus' visit to see Jesus at night. Nicodemus was an important man, a wise teacher and Jesus didn't let Nicodemus intimidate him. In fact he didn't even let him get his question out! Why Nicodemus came to Jesus, and at night, is the subject of scholastic speculation and we will never really know the answer. Nicodemus came with a mission from the Sanhedrin or a group of them.Jesus had just "cleansed" the Temple with a whip and some of the leaders may have secretly admired him for it. He had put the religious order of the day and particularly prayer above commercial gain. He had shown that he was a "teacher come from God" by his miraculous signs. He was a person to enter into debate with and an interesting man to put an opinion into the rabbinic pot of the day. But we don't know what he cane to ask. The Rich Young Ruler came with "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"; the Sadducees came with "What is the greatest commandment?". We don't know what this important Pharisee wanted!
What he got was a statement that he would not see the Kingdom of God unless he was born again!
We cannot shy away from these big questions or tailor our answers according to the person who is asking them. We also cannot apologise for Jesus' words. The need to start again in our lives and rebuild them after our encounter with Jesus and our initial faith in Him as the one who "was lifted up for us" and "who came not to judge the world but to save it" is evident from this encounter with one of the rulers of the day.
Nicodemus got to ask a question but I do not think it was the one he came to ask: "how can a man who is old enter once again his mothers womb?" He might have thought he was being ironic, sarcastic or humorous. Jesus showed that he meant what he said but the New Life would come as a result of the Holy Spirit coming to reside with our spirit. He will never leave us or forsake us and we will see the Kingdom of God as He reigns in our lives.
Nicodemus reappears in the gospel account speaking up in the Sanhedrin (John 7) and alongside Joseph of Aramathea providing spices to anoint Jesus' body for burial (John 19). Was he born again? I hope so.