Welcoming the Night Visitor

Jesus and NicodemusJ

 

We heard from Thomas, doubting Thomas, on Sunday. The next few days  he’s joined in this week’s readings by Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, fluent in religious matters, but he comes to Jesus by night. Was it fear, human respect? Yet Jesus meets him at night. (John 3)

Nicodemus questions but doesn’t seem to understand Jesus’ answers. “How can this happen?”  Thomas  isn’t the only skeptic, a lone dissenter. Others are slow to believe too.  There is a recurrent skepticism in us all.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea– a member of the Jewish ruling party and another hesitant believer – finally come forward at Jesus’ death.  Joseph asks Pilate for his body. Nicodemus brings an abundance of spices for his burial. Leaving the darkness, they follow Jesus into the light. Here’s how John’s gospel describes them:

“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by. “(John 19, 39-42)

The dark time of death is bathed in glory.  Nicodemus’ store of spices  makes Jesus’ burial a kingly burial. The new tomb in a garden already suggests something wonderful about to happen.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3,17)

“Everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” Everyone, even reluctant believers  like Joseph and Nicodemus.

2 thoughts on “Welcoming the Night Visitor

  1. peddiebill

    I am not certain from your intro that you have Thomas right. While John as the gospel writer seems to portray Thomas as a doubter don’t forget that Thomas went on to be one of the bravest disciples who took the gospel first to Persia, then to South India where he was eventually martyred for his faith. Some of the Bible scholars claim Johns real beef with Thomas was he was one of the alternative gospel writers whose Gospel was eventually left out of the Bible because he taught that although Jesus had the light, his followers could also share in that light. He was also the disciple who when the other disciples had tried to talk Jesus out of revisiting a community where a threatening crowd had wanted to stone Jesus, it was Thomas who supported Jesus in his plans.

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  2. vhoagland Post author

    Peddiebill,

    Thanks for you comment. I don’t think Thomas was the only doubter and I agree with tradition that Thomas was an outstanding witness to the gospel in Persia and India. His words “My Lord and my God” seem to indicate that John saw him too as a great witness to the resurrection. The easter readings seem to accept questioning people among the followers of Jesus. There’s a Thomas in us all. We follow Jesu from question to question. Eventually we hope to know in ful. FVictor

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