Scripture: John 3:16-21
Key verse: (16)“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Reflection: I was quietly eating breakfast one morning in Manugua, Nicaragua, soaking in my new environment. Newly ordained, I had not had very much exposure to the larger world and the shock of a new culture, tremendous poverty, and being far from home were very much with me that morning. We were working with several local organizations (including a meeting with Sister Helen Prejean, the nun made famous from Dead Man Walking) and I felt over my head and way out of my comfort zone. My reflections were interrupted by a woman on a church mission trip who after asking me to pass the sugar, said “How many people have you saved this trip?”
“How many people have you saved? I saved 12 yesterday and am proud about that.” Not waiting or wanting to hear my response the conversation quickly moved on but 16 years later I still linger at that table. Never mind that we don’t save anybody — salvation is only and always God’s work through the life and death of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit — but the soul that most needed saving that morning in Nicaragua was mine. I needed to be saved from my privilege and fear, from my ignorance and arrogance. I needed to be converted to the plight of the poor who God declares his allegiance to in every corner of holy writ. I needed to meet my Nicaraguan Lord.
Nicodemus comes to see Jesus. He comes at night, perhaps seeking anonymity and safety. But meeting Jesus is always a risk and your life is in his hands. The name Nicodemus means ‘conqueror of people,’ but Jesus wanted to give him a new name, a new identity, a new life. It would perhaps look a lot like the old one in some ways but it would be lived with a wildly different purpose. Jesus wanted Nicodemus to be born again, conquered if you will, saved, made new.
The hardest conversion is the conversion of self. Why we close our eyes and then curse the darkness remains a frustrating mystery of our frail flesh. It’s a good thing that God so loves the world that he sends his only son as a reminder that he has not given up on our salvation. He is still at it, that persistent God of ours, so if you meet him at breakfast this morning be careful asking him how many souls he has saved today. He might tell you that he is working on one that very moment…
Prayer : Lord, save me, help me, love me. In Jesus name. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod