The Fourth Sunday of Lent, "B" Cycle:
by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
The Man Who Came by Night
Meditations and Prayers for the Fourth Week of Lent Cycle "B"
2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Eph 2:4-10; John 3:14-21
Nicodemus Comes to Jesus by Night, Johann Eck, c. 1530
After Jesus cleanses the temple and says prophetically he is replacing that sacred place, Nicodemus comes to see him by night. He’s a Pharisee, an important person in the city, and no doubt worried what people would think if they saw him with Jesus by day. After all, some who said he’s possessed by a demon may be right.
But despite coming to Jesus in the darkness, Nicodemus is not a slave of the dark. He’s looking for light. An honest questioner, searching for the truth.
Jesus does not point to his miracles, his healings, the crowds he draws, to establish his credentials. It’s not success stories he tells Nicodemus. It’s a story of a tragedy turned into victory.
Nicodemus would have recognized the account of the Jews in the desert bitten by snakes because of their unbelief and infidelity. Then, when the serpent is lifted up on a staff, they are healed at the sight.
It will not be Jesus’ successes that cause Nicodemus to believe in him. He saw Jesus one day lifted up on a cross, and by the gift of God’s grace he came to believe. God’s mercy was there before him, healing all who needed forgiveness. The Pharisee, a leader in Israel, doesn’t hide in the dark now; Nicodemus boldly goes to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body and buries it in his own tomb nearby.
The mystery of the Cross brought him to believe.
We go to you through questions, Lord,
sometimes in our doubts.
Like Nicodemus we often go to you in the night,
but you do not mind receiving us then.
For with you “the night itself is like the day.”
As long as we do not love the darkness,
you listen and reach out.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not perish
but might have eternal life.”