It’s been just about fifteen years since I met Jesus. I can still remember what it was like to be brand new to the faith—and also what it was like to be completely hostile toward the gospel, when what seemed so obvious to those who believed was anything but to the uninitiated like me.
The Bible is full of the stories of people who were trying to make sense of Jesus. People like Nicodemus. He was one of the religious elite, one of the people you would expect to know everything about what it meant to worship God (John 3:1). But when he heard about Jesus’s teaching, he was curious. When he heard about the signs He performed, Nicodemus knew he had to speak to Him.
But when he actually talked to Jesus, he was confused. Jesus said strange things that seemed to make no sense, things that were surely impossible, like: “Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). I have to wonder, in that moment when Jesus was explaining this, did Nicodemus get it? Did he understand what Jesus was talking about? Maybe. But probably not.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that Nicodemus didn’t get it that night. Because there was a time when I didn’t either (and ditto for you, too). And that’s okay. But here’s what I love: the interaction between Nicodemus and Jesus isn’t the end of Nicodemus’s story. Nicodemus keeps showing up all throughout John’s Gospel. He’s on this journey trying to figure things out. He left Jesus in the night and didn’t understand, but He kept wrestling with what Jesus told him. When the other religious leaders were trying to decide what to do with Jesus, Nicodemus began to defend Him (John 7:45–52). He still didn’t seem to quite know what to make of Him, but He knew that Jesus wasn’t some charlatan. And then we see him again, after Jesus has been killed, as one of the people who prepared His body for burial (John 19:38–42).
Nicodemus was on this journey for years. He didn’t understand at first, but he didn’t stop trying to figure out who Jesus was. It wasn’t obvious to him, but eventually, it seems like he got it. Through three years of wrestling, he began to see what can only be seen by those who are born again.
I still remember when I saw and understood the truth; when what wasn’t obvious to me, suddenly was. And that’s something I hope I don’t forget, especially when I think about people I know who still don’t understand the gospel. They don’t get it now, but that doesn’t mean they never will. It might be three years or thirty, but someday, it could happen. They, just like you and me, could be born again, and when they are, they will see the kingdom of God for themselves.
Written by Aaron Armstrong