I find Nicodemus a fascinating character. John describes him as “a leader of the Jews.” Judging by the three incidents in which he appears, he is a person of considerable influence. In John 7:51, we read that Nicodemus speaks out boldly against his fellow Pharisees during the confrontations of Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem, contending that on the basis of Jewish law Jesus should be granted a fair hearing. Later in that same week, after the horrific events of Good Friday, Nicodemus appears again, joining Joseph of Arimathea to provide for Jesus’ burial and even contributing some hundred pounds of expensive spices. (See John 19:39.) Despite what Jesus said elsewhere concerning rich men, the kingdom of heaven, and the eye of a needle (see Matthew 19:24), it seems that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who provided the garden tomb, have become devoted followers.

But I find the scene from today’s reading the most intriguing. A prominent citizen creeps through the shadows in the dead of night to seek counsel from the young teacher and healer. His questions reveal sheer confusion: “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb?” And then Jesus’ strange teaching about the Spirit and the flesh and the nature of rebirth culminates in those simple yet immeasurably profound words that encapsulate his entire ministry and mission: “God so loved the world.”

As followers of Christ, we can remember that God loved and still loves the world—not just the church. God’s beloved world includes and embraces our enemies as well as our friends, our worldwide neighbors as well as our family, all fellow creatures, and every corner of creation.

Remind us, Lord, to love this world as you do, to cherish it as your irreplaceable gift. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 3:1-17

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Lectionary Week
March 2–8, 2020
Scripture Overview

The readings for this week provide an overview of the history of God’s people. Genesis recounts the story of Abraham, who because of his great faith leaves his home and goes to a land that God has promised to show him. The psalmist speaks for the descendants of Abraham, who trust in the Lord to watch over them and be their helper. Paul in Romans argues against those who believe that God’s grace is a result of correctly following religious law. It is Abraham’s faith (for there is no law in Abraham’s time) that prompts him to follow God, and for this he is commended. Both Gospel passages (John and Matthew) emphasize that the story of Jesus is the continuation of a relationship with God’s faithful people that began with Abraham.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Genesis 12:1-4a. Recall a major and a minor crossroads in your life. How did you listen for God’s call during each time?
Read Psalm 121. Reflect on the times in your life when this psalm has most strongly resonated with you. How do your strongest emotions point you to God’s presence?
Read Romans 4:1-5, 13-17. What motivates you to do good works? How do you balance “faith alone” and the action to which God calls you?
Read John 3:1-17. How do you hear again the powerful words of verses so familiar they permeate culture? What makes these words fresh for you?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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