For September 26, 2021
The Bible does not provide us with the exact time and place where Nicodemus met with Jesus. John tells us it happened during Passover, which is a major Jewish observance that runs concurrently with the Feast of Unleavened Bread; from the fourteenth day through the twenty-first day of the first month of the Jewish calendar or Nisan.1
During this week of feasting and celebration, massive throngs of people flooded Jerusalem from all over the world as every Jewish male was required to attend this observance to commemorate Israel’s Exodus from Egyptian slavery (see: Exodus 12:1-13:16, 23:17; 34:23).2
Yet in the midst of all the festive merry-making, Nicodemus yearned for more—he wanted to meet Jesus. Something intrigued him about the Lord. Perhaps it was His many miracles, or maybe it was His remarkable teachings about the Kingdom of God that resonated within his heart such as,
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10 (NIV)
It could have been the stories from people whose lives had been changed completely after they met Jesus that fascinated him. Ultimately, there was something about Jesus that was most captivating to Nicodemus, as one author notes:
[Nicodemus] recognized in Jesus something he had never yet encountered. He was so impressed that he sought a private interview with this new teacher, and arranged an appointment with Jesus “by night.” The fact that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night certainly is no evidence of cowardice on his part. It was the natural thing to do.3
Although their meeting was outside the norm since both the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin opposed Jesus, Nicodemus saw it as crucial. Ultimately, it would help him find the answer to the age-old question many of his contemporaries were asking: “Is this teacher our long-awaited Messiah?”
At Sinai, Moses yearned for more of God, but God warned that a physical encounter between the finite and infinite would be impossible without mediation or shield (my emphasis),
The LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The LORD continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” Exodus 33:19-23 (NLT)
In the Old Testament, one unfiltered look at God was too much for any mortal. So, God placed Moses in a cleft on the mount. Then as He passed by, Moses caught a brief glimpse of God’s glory from behind. Nevertheless, one brief glimpse at God’s backside illuminated Moses’ face to the extent he veiled his face to keep from frightening others (Exodus 34:28–35, 2 Corinthians 3:12–18).
Now in this New Testament Age, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of everything we will ever want to know or experience about God, and His Holy Spirit gives us access to the presence and power of God in His fullest measure,
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:9-12 (NLT)
Our God is morally and spiritually perfect, and glorious in His holiness. This trait encapsulates the very core of His being. The Old Testament word that describes something sacred or holy (Hebrew: qados) depicts God as the One who has a pure, undefiled quality of essence, which separates Him (or “cut off”) from anything in His group or class.4 He is the one, true, holy God!
The New Testament counterpart (Greek: hagios) describes God as pure, blameless, sacred; distinct from what is common or normal and conveys the idea of bestowing reverence.5
Therefore, whether we read the Old or New Testament, the message is clear: holiness is predicated on God, who alone is pure, majestic, and glorious—our God is holy and without equal.
Proverbs 25:2 tells us that our Lord has chosen to conceal the full extent of His grandeur and majesty, while Psalm 147:5 (NLT) reads: “How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” However, when we express a sacred devotion or sanctity toward God (or get real with God), He is faithful to reveal His loving, captivating radiance to us.
In the Old Testament, God commands His people to be holy, just as He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). Likewise, in the New Testament, Jesus states we are to live our lives with “no part dark” (Luke 11:36). One can only imagine the impact we’d make within our families, churches, communities, nation, and the world if more of us lived our lives with “no part dark.” It would certainly free us from a world filled with all forms of greed, hatred, deceit, bondage and exploitation. How much safer would our world be if we lived like this? I can only imagine!
As finite and fallible creatures, achieving His holiness through sanctification is impossible without His intervention. God’s life-changing Spirit compels us to revere His creation with a sober view of His eternal being. This will help us pursue His moral and spiritual perfection with all sincerity and dedication.
When we come to God with a new appreciation for His all-encompassing presence and dominion, we can no longer express indifference and ambivalence towards Him because we are driven to present a sincere, reverent, intentional Christ-centered way of living that involves our deliberate participation.
God is a life-changing Spirit whose incredible majesty and splendor compel us to revere Him with a sober view of His eternal being. As we yearn for more of God by surrendering to Christ daily; allowing His Spirit to reign in us, we can grow closer to God in all phases of our lives. We also develop a strong sense of piety and reverence toward God that causes us to crave an even deeper level of intimacy with the Lord.
Over time, it becomes easier to invite Him to reign in every area of our lives so that we can reflect His holiness as Proverbs 4:18 (NLT) indicates, “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.” Won’t you yearn for more God today?
What a Wonderful Savior!
- The original name: Abib (Exodus 13:4) was changed to Nisan after Israel’s exile from Babylonian captivity (see: Nehemiah 2:1, Esther 3:7).
- The mandatory feasts: Passover/Unleavened Bread, occur between our March and April, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost occurs between May and June, and the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles occurs between September and October.
- Hester, H.I. The Heart of the New Testament, 35th ed., (Nashville: Broadman, 1981) 129.
- See: Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, “Qados,” in The Complete Word Study Dictionary Old Testament, (Chattanooga: AMG, 2003) 976-977.
- See: Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, revised and edited by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979) 9-10.