Reading: John 19: 38-42
Jesus has died and His body hung on the cross. The other two who had been crucified with Jesus have also died. The excitement of the crucifixions is over so the jeering crowds, the curious onlookers, and the followers who loved Jesus have all drifted away. The three bodies hang on the crosses. It is a desolate image. It is a hard reality to envision this image. It seems a time without hope.
It is at this point that Nicodemus steps once again into the story. He goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body. This seems an odd choice for a Pharisee and a member of the ruling council. But it is evidence of Nicodemus’ growing faith and belief in Jesus. We recall first meeting Nicodemus in John 3 when he went under cover of night to talk with Jesus. Here he hears the message that he must be born again. A few chapters later Nicodemus utters a brief and almost half-hearted defense of Jesus as the chief priests and Pharisees debate what to do with this Jesus. Perhaps Nicodemus was one of those cheering on the parade route a few days earlier and then was among the crowd a few days later that shouted, “Crucify Him”! Through all of this we see Nicodemus’ faith growing, his love deepening, to the point he is willing to go to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body.
But perhaps Nicodemus’ story is not so unfamiliar to us. We can all think back to the first times we really wondered who this Jesus was. Was He more than the Bible stories? Could I really have a personal relationship with Jesus? So we began to question and to seek answers. As we learned more and came to love Him more, we too came to a point of timidly defending Jesus and our faith in Him. It may have seemed unimportant at the time, but upon reflection we are it as another turning point on our journey of faith. And then we get to the point in our faith where we find Nicodemus at in today’s story: willing to stand and be counted as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This day may we be as bold as Nicodemus, declaring our faith in Jesus Christ to any and all.