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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today’s Reading | John 2:23–3:15

When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He 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.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus 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?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The 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.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

“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. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (NRSV)


I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed before that Jesus didn’t trust himself with everyone who followed him. Having gathered a mass following because of the miraculous things he was doing, he was nonetheless wise enough about human nature to maintain clear boundaries with the masses.

But he did entrust himself to a leader of the people called Nicodemus. In fact, he shared with him one of his deepest and most profound teachings: unless we are born anew—unless we are fully transformed—we will not experience God’s kingdom as it emerges in the world.

What did Jesus see in Nicodemus that he didn’t see in the masses? Was there something special about Nicodemus that set him apart?

Nicodemus was a leader. Nicodemus was a change agent. Jesus knew that he had neither the time nor the energy to reach every single person with whom he came into contact. But he could empower a smaller group of leaders to bring forth his vision into the world. And Nicodemus proved himself faithful, sticking with Jesus until the very end.

During this season of Lent, let us all listen for God’s voice. Perhaps we too are the leaders God is calling to help transform the world.


Through the noise of the crowds and the busyness of life, help me to focus on Jesus and seek in him the deep truths of life. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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