Wednesday

29 February 2012

John 2:23 – 3:15

"No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." (v. 3)

Background

Jesus gathered followers of different kinds. And the incident in the temple (John 2:13-22) showed he had critics too.

Some of Jesus' followers, like Nicodemus, were not prepared to profess their discipleship publicly. Some commentators suggest that Nicodemus was part of a small, subversive group of people (among Jesus' critics) who were also followers of Jesus.

Nicodemus is mentioned elsewhere in John's Gospel. He appears alongside Joseph of Arimathea who was also described as a "disciple of Jesus, though a secret one" (John 19:38-42). Elsewhere (John 12:42-43) there is reference to "many, even of the authorities" who believed in Jesus.

Nicodemus was also a member of the authorities who sent the temple police to arrest Jesus (John 7:45-52). He tried to defend Jesus but did not publicly confess any kind of allegiance to Jesus.

What kind of a disciple was Nicodemus?

  • He addressed Jesus as "a teacher ... from God" (v. 2) and Jesus saw him as "a teacher of Israel" (v. 10).
  • They have a high regard for each other, and engage in respectful dialogue.
  • Jesus offers Nicodemus the challenge of a different kind of discipleship centred on "the kingdom of God".

What distinguishes a person born from above/again/anew is their capacity to "see" the kingdom of God (for example, where there is transformation of life (John 2:1-12) and prayer (John 2:13-22)).

This is a call to discipleship with a capacity to reflect and see signs of the kingdom of God.

 

To Ponder

Where do you see the signs of the kingdom of God?

Nicodemus was truly a disciple of Jesus, and a member of the Jewish authorities. What are the clues that he had the capacity to see the kingdom of God?


Bible notes author

The Revd Inderjit Bhogal

Inderjit Bhogal is a Methodist minister with a wide experience at local, regional, national and international levels. He is a former president of the British Methodist Conference and is currently working as leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.