Every time I read a passage from the bible, more often than not I want to put a “face to a name.” I want to have a proximity, a connection, some flesh and blood to these bible people.
Those thoughts crossed my mind today. The passage of Nicodemus talking with Jesus as related in John 3:1-8. I went and googled this fella. Looking for snippets. And found only two more references to him, both in John.
And along the way found examples of songs, books, plays that had woven Nicodemus into the narrative of modern day fictions. Our “want” to add the flesh and bones seems universal. To make a connection. To lock-in the proximity. To make Nicodemus “one of us” rather than just a bible guy.
And John’s last words called me: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” John 20:30
And the lord asked me a very quiet question today:
“What is “put in” is more important that what is “left out”. Why?”
So rather than attempt to “flesh out Nicodemus”, I went back to John 3 with my lord and his question: Why did John want this incident to be included?
And settled on the same incident a little further on:
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” John 3:10-15
The teacher word being bounced around here:
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God.” John 3:2 And within that a curiosity: another prophet … a major prophet … a minor prophet? Another teacher from God just like the long line of bible guy teachers from God? Or the biggie. The One?
And Jesus’ response: “You are Israel’s teacher. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”
A teacher. The title not the person.
The title back then. The title right now. A timeless title. A universal title. No flesh and blood needed. John “puts this in” to show me something important. Something of God.
This is an earthly thing speaking of heavenly things. Not for me to track down Nicodemus and make him one of us. Not that at all. Simply for what it “says of God”. For a better understanding of God. So I can “flesh out” my connection with God. Not Nicodemus.
“You are Israel’s teacher.”
The title. It’s all about the title. Then … Now. Because all of us who profess to having faith have a title.
Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed by Thy name. They kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
What is our title?
And what are we doing with it today?