Nicodemus was a very brave man. Now I know that not everyone views him that way. Some folks read in John 3 about him coming to visit Jesus under the cover of darkness and see him as a coward. But not me. To me he was the most courageous of the Pharisees.
The Pharisees were blind men. Not literally, of course, but perhaps in a way that was even worse than physical blindness. Jesus speaks with great intensity in Matthew 23 about the beliefs and behaviors of this group of men and the horrendous effect it was having on themselves and on all around them – but they did not have a clue. Sadly, no matter how much Jesus addressed it, they could not acknowledge or own what he was saying. I imagine that within the confines of their group little thought or discussion was given to the truths Jesus was speaking. More likely they spent time assuring themselves of how right and righteous they were; which, interestingly, probably made it really emotionally uncomfortable, even dangerous, for anyone to actually talk out loud about being blind. That is not to say they did not, in the privacy of their homes, ponder their lives and what Jesus was saying and wonder if things could be different. But publicly they needed to remain resolute.
So it is not surprising that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night – but he came! I doubt he loudly announced to the others his intention to meet with the Rabbi. Would not have been good for social standing or job security. But Nicodemus could sense his own blindness. He did not understand the details or the magnitude of it but he knew who to talk with to uncover the truth. So he ventured out from the other blind men and found his way to Jesus. And in the middle of a dark night he found truth.
Most of us are blind in some areas of life. We often are totally unaware (or choose to remain unaware) of the negative, even destructive, impact of our beliefs and behaviors on ourselves and others. And regrettably we often travel in groups where discussing our possible blindness and taking action on it would be uncomfortable, even dangerous. Some years ago I had a pastor offer to set up a satellite office of JMCF in his church facility. I thanked him for his offer but declined, telling him that it was not best to do that yet, that his church did not have a culture of healing at this time. I explained that if his church people saw individuals or couples coming to a JMCF session in his building the response would more like be, “Oh good, he/she/they are going for counseling. They really need it. They are so messed up.” instead of, “How wonderful to see he/she/them going for ministry. Lets pause and pray for their session and encourage them when we see them next.” This good pastor understood and offered renewed support to “a safe place to heal.”
I am praying that more and more people will be aware and courageous like Nicodemus. When told over and over again that he was blind he did not rail against the words but started to question where this might be true in his life, where he might be blind. And he was not going to be satisfied until he brought his questions to Jesus and received what the Lord had for him, even at the risk of being belittled, chastised or rejected by the others. That night changed his life.