How have you grown? What has Jesus meant to you? What would you be willing or able to do today that you could not have imagined yourself doing a year ago, five years ago, before Jesus came into your life, before you fully basked in his sunshine?
One of the joys of being a Christian is finding the faith and strength to face things that ordinarily would have scared us, to try things we thought we would never be good enough to do, and to challenge those who wish to shroud the land in darkness.
But it can also be scary: to be the one to stand up, to be the one to act, to try that new thing, to stretch as a person, as a sibling of Christ, as a child of God, as a benefactor of the Spirit.
But if we have not changed, if we have not grown, then we have not fully embraced the relationship with Jesus that is being fully offered.
One person who did was Nicodemus, the Pharisee. He goes toe to toe with Jesus in this Sunday's scripture, John 3:1-17. In the dark of night, when no one can see him, good old Nico' visits Jesus and ends up engaging in mysterious word-play that he does not fully "get" at the moment, and word play which still leaves some scholars scratching their head.
But faith is not always about understanding, faith also comes in the wrestling, in the act of trying to figure things out. And apparently, Nico's encounter with Jesus made an impression because the next time we see him, Nico' is standing up for Jesus even when the powers that be are trying to arrest him (John 7:45-52). Of course, Nico gets slammed in the process with an "Oh no you didn't: comment.
But that doesn't stop him, for the next time we see Nicodemus is right after Jesus has been killed, and it is Nico with Joseph of Armithea who ask for Jesus' body, who anoint it, who wrap it in linen, who place it in the tomb. And Nico uses not just a mixture of myrrh and aloes to care for Jesus, but a 100 pounds worth, a sign not only of his wealth but his devotion to Jesus.
Nicodemus not only becomes a great role-model of a way in which to grieve, but also a great role-model on how one can grow in Christ. When we first see him he is secretly visiting Jesus in the dark of night, but he grows and matures into someone who is able to stand up for what is right, and into someone who is not afraid to act in the daylight, for all to see, showing his love for Jesus.
May we all be like Nicodemus, may we all find ways to embrace how much we have spiritually grown and the ways we can reach out to show and profess our faith.
In love and abundance,