You are a teacher of Israel and you do not know these things? John 3:10
Nicodemus sought Jesus’ company at night for a spiritual conversation. There has been so much speculation as to why he came under cover of darkness. Maybe he was afraid for his physical safety to be seen with Jesus, or nighttime was his only opportunity. Perhaps it would be detrimental to his profession as an important religious leader to keep company with someone controversial. Whatever the reason, he was curious. Nicodemus was a ‘ruler of the Jews’. This was the modern day equivalent of a supreme court justice. Imagine one of our high ranking judges going to seek legal wisdom from a blue collar laborer. Most unusual.
Nicodemus came with a breadth of knowledge and yet he couldn’t understand the simplest of spiritual concepts. Jesus talked of being born again but this ruler of the Jews was confused. He scratched his head and asked Jesus how such a thing could be for someone who had already been born. Jesus’ response is that it really was possible to be a scholar of the scriptures and yet a babe in the most important spiritual matters. Education can be dangerous. It gives a false sense of mastery and invites one to deny any need for spiritual enlightenment. Whether a babe or seasoned bible professor, each of us is a beggar in want of spiritual understanding. Each of us needs the daily help of a Teacher and Counselor. None of us can know a passage well enough to personalize it in an attempt to understand ourselves and Jesus better.
Familiarity with the scriptures is a bad foundation for spiritual growth. It was for Nicodemus and it is for me. I can breeze through a passage like John chapter 3 and assume I know the synopsis. I don’t take the time to read verses I memorized long ago to seek God’s help to grasp their meaning. No matter the passage, no matter the familiarity, there are always new layers of truth to impact my heart. I will not be able to discover them on my own through hours and hours of study. Only through the inspiration of the Spirit.
Have you recently re-discovered verses and found them to be like new? You always thought you knew what they meant but have come to realize they meant something else entirely. I suspect that what opened your eyes was spiritual need and a calling upon God to make them real. Seeing my need is a pre-requisite for spiritual understanding. My list for such scriptures is too lengthy to share. At mid-life, I discovered that I knew little of who Jesus was. I had studied Him but not lived with Him intimately. It wasn’t until there was intimacy that the scriptures came alive.
What is the new birth? I didn’t really start to get it until a decade ago when God began to speak to me about the difference between an ‘orphan’ and a ‘daughter’. It is possible to be His daughter without living like one. God is calling all orphans out of the slums.
We are Nicodemus. We come to you like sponges. Teach us. Amen