pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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A Day to Wait

Reading: John 19: 38-42

Verse 40: “Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen”.

When Jesus breathes His last breath, three hours of darkness descends upon the land. After the three hours of darkness passed, Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for Jesus’ body. Nicodemus comes to help, bringing with him myrrh and aloes for the body. “Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen”. These two men, leaders in the Jewish religion, then place the body in a nearby tomb – one we believe Joseph bought for himself. From the other three gospels, we know that some of the women who followed Jesus were also there. Mary and Mary Magdalene are named in two of the gospels.

None of Jesus’ disciples are there. They are fearful of being associated with Jesus. They are afraid of what the Jewish leaders might do to them. Joseph and Nicodemus are likely both members of the ruling council. They do not seem too concerned about being associated with Jesus. The events that have unfolded the past two days must have brought them to the point of believing in Jesus. They most certainly did not know what was going to happen Sunday morning. Joseph and Nicodemus were simply showing love to Jesus by caring for His body.

Then Saturday happens. It was the Sabbath – the day to worship God and to rest. For all who had followed Jesus and who had professed faith in Him as Lord and Savior, Saturday was a “now what?” kind of day. I doubt that they praised God much that day. I doubt they did much except pray and think about what had just happened in light of the three years they had just spent with Jesus. It must have been so hard to reconcile these two. For all of Jesus’ followers, this day must have been awful. It was a day full of why?, what if?, how? type of questions.

It is a hard day for us to sit in the moment, knowing that tomorrow is coming. We know the end of the story. Yet today can be a day of questions and reflection for us too. But our questions are of a difference type. How has Jesus changed my life? Why did Jesus pick me as a follower? What if I lived out my resurrection faith more fully? May your Holy Saturday be blessed as you reflect on Jesus this day.

Prayer: Lord, may I be present to you today. May I find you in the moment, in-between the cross and the empty tomb. May I come to know you better today. Amen.

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Holy Spirit, Lead Me

Reading: John 3: 1-15

Verse Five: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and the Spirit'”.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. Coming to see Jesus is a dangerous move that involves risk for Nicodemus. The Pharisees are the religious leaders and often do not see eye to eye with Jesus. In John 2, Jesus has just cleared the temple, telling the leaders that they have made it into “a market”. Yet Nicodemus comes to Jesus. He has seen Jesus’ works, the miracles, and knows He is from God. Jesus gives Nicodemus an answer even though he does not ask a question. Jesus says, “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again'”.

Nicodemus is, of course, confused. You and I would be too. He has come to Jesus with some purpose – surely with some questions or a need. This may have eventually led back around to the topic Jesus brings up, but certainly not this directly. Jesus cuts to it straight away and begins to share about what is ultimately important: eternal life. But for now, Nicodemus is earthly and practical. It also demonstrates how far apart in the conversation these two are. Jesus goes on to explain, saying more fully, “born of the water and the Spirit”. Jesus then gives an analogy of how the wind blows “wherever it pleases”. He concludes with, “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”.

Nicodemus does not really understand this either. He comes from a place of religion where it is all about following the Law. Being faithful for him is accomplished by following the rules. They are clear and defined. This idea of being born of the Spirit and being led here and there, almost at random, is a foreign concept to Nicodemus. To consider it and to begin to live it out would have been a scary thought for Nicodemus. It is for us.

To sincerely pray, “God use me today…” is placing our faith and trust fully in God. To be open to and to be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit wherever it may lead takes surrender of self. This is what it means to be “born again” – it requires that we are willing to die to self and to be made into a new self that lives by faith, loving God and neighbor more than self.

Lord God, use me today. Use me for thy purposes and for your work in this world. Holy Spirit, lead and guide me today. Amen.


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Bold as Nicodemus

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.


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Understand God?

Nicodemus is drawn to Jesus.  He comes in the dark of night though because, although he is drawn, he still has a lot to keep in mind.   He is a Pharisee, a Jewish religious leader, and his group often clashes with Jesus.  And yet he comes – because Jesus has answers.

Isn’t that why we usually come to Jesus too?  To seek answers, to understand life, to  get guidance or comfort or peace?  Our prayers are often not questions, but sometimes we really do question, it is just below the surface.  We pray for strength or resolution in a certain situation.  But just below the surface we are questioning why God would allow us to even be in the situation.

Nicodemus comes, of course, because he wants answers.  He is willing to risk a little to get an answer or two from Jesus.  But Jesus’ answers do not make sense to Nicodemus.  Be born again?  That makes as much sense as dying twice!  Jesus tries to explain what being born of the Spirit means, but that does not fit in with Nicodemus’ thinking either.  Then and there he cannot assimilate this information.  Nicodemus goes away confused, with a lot to ponder, and without any answers he understands yet.  But he will.

Can you relate to Nicodemus?  Have you ever had a prayer ‘answered’ in a way you do not understand?  Ever feel like you did not get an answer at all?  Like Nicodemus, at times we too struggle to understand God and His ways.  He is a big and complex God.  It is okay we do not fully know everything.  Even though we do not fully know God, we do know some things.  He loves us more than we can ever imagine and He wants the very best for us.  Hold onto these truths of God.  Keep on seeking and praying.

Scripture reference: John 3: 1-15