Nicodemus was being pleasant, polite, and courteous. He was flattering Jesus but he had not asked the questions on his heart. Perhaps he did not even know how to ask. Jesus stopped Nicodemus short. He then answered Nicodemus’ primary question without being asked.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” – John 3:3-4, ESV
To Nicodemus, Jesus’ words were absurd. They didn’t make any sense. We will look more at that tomorrow: the absurdity of the Gospel. For now, let’s focus on Jesus’ initial words to a searching man, one willing to accept his pride and station in order to find the real answers.
How do you get to heaven? This is an important question, likely the most important question any of us can ask. This was the question on Nicodemus’ heart. Here was a teacher of the Law, a recognized member of the Jewish religious leaders, and one who had patterned his life to avoid sin by any means possible. Yet still his heart nagged him. He knew that none of this meant seeing God in eternity.
Jesus doesn’t toy with him. He doesn’t make Nicodemus figure out the right question to ask. He doesn’t send Nicodemus on a quest for understand or even pile on some task of penance. Rather, Jesus answers him directly. Yes, Jesus’ words were confusing, at first, but they were truth. They were what Nicodemus needed in order to answer the question on his heart.
God is willing to deal with us in this way. He tells to ask for wisdom and He will grant it. He had provided a Counselor and Guide in the Person of the Holy Spirit. He has poured out Himself in His Word. Our God desires for us to understand if we are willing to pursue Him. If our heart truly seeks after Him, if it hungers for the Kingdom of God, He will answer. The Bible is filled with accounts where God answered earnestly seeking people. Nicodemus isn’t an isolated example.
We must seek after God. We must bring the questions of our hearts to Him. If we do so without deception or scheme or other purpose, we can expect His answers. Do note, it’s not because we deserve those answers, but because of who He is. Because He honors His promises, we can count on those answers. So let us seek, let Him answer, and let us respond. After all, Jesus spoke these words so Nicodemus could respond and see the Kingdom of God that was his deepest desire. He expects the same of us.