|St Michael’s, West Kirby by Arthur John Picton|
Fun at West Kirby with Nicodemus as the focus for the gospel reading – he comes to Jesus by night (John 3:1-17). Is that to hide himself? Does it describe his “unknowing” – which Jesus exposes? Does it describe his anxiety?
Does John attach any significance to his name – which means “victory of the people” (as does “Nicholas/Nichola”) with the passage ending with the words about Jesus’s coming not being to condemn the world, but to save it – the victory of the people?
Nicodemus is a shadowy figure this early in John’s gospel. He crops up again – John 7:45-51. Here he defends Jesus while still being very much part of the ruling council. He stands on his own when he says: “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” To which his fellow councillors react, replying: “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you?”
By the time Nicodemus makes his third appearance – John 19:38-42 – he is no longer associated with the rulers, but does come with Joseph of Arimathea (who is a secret disciple because of his fear) to take Jesus’s dead body to prepare it for burial.
I’d say that that was quite a journey John describes of the prestigious Nicodemus – from meeting Jesus in darkness, to being in two minds while keeping his old party membership – to his new identity of being with Jesus in his death and resurrection.
|The Myrrhbearers from Fr Stephen’s blog|
Nicodemus is one of the myrrhbearers celebrated in the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers in the Orthodox tradition on the 3rd Sunday of Easter. He and Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body with myrrh before burial. The other myrrhbearers – Mary Magdalene, Mary (wife of Cleopas), Joanna, Salome and Susanna – all brought myrrh to anoint Jesus’s body after his burial.
A story that begins in night and ends with the new morning of resurrection is a telling way of explaining the possibility of being born again. It’s a telling story for Lent – for Lent comes from the old English for “lengthening days”. One day, “there will be no more night” (Revelation 22:5), but in the mean time we live in the restlessness, anxiety, secrecy of the night – for some a time of great fear and violence – as we see in this clip from Libya.