“He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God.”

John 3:17

Monday, 15 March 2021

John 3:1-21

Nicodemus seeks Jesus out at night and comes to speak to him. His conversation with Jesus is about key points in salvation history. Jesus talks about the serpent in the desert, recalling the journey that Israel made through the wilderness. The mention of God giving his only son reminds him of the patriarch Abraham who was prepared to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. The mention of light and darkness reminds Nicodemus of the beginning of creation when God separates light from dark. In the encounter, Jesus shows Nicodemus how God has always been in a living relationship with his people.

Jesus also boils down the essence of his message in this account – a piece of scripture which is frequently repeated: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus shows Nicodemus how God is active throughout the whole of history, from the dawn of creation. Nicodemus expects God’s judgement to be something that will happen in the future. Jesus tries to explain that God has judged the world already by sending Jesus into the world. God, Jesus reveals, is not removed and passive but close and active.

Sometimes, like Bette Midler sings, we think that God is “watching from a distance” and that judgement will come sometime in the future. In this time of Lent, we are invited to take stock of our lives. One of the invitations is for us to look at our own lives and recognize how God is actively present now. Just as God was active in Israel’s history, so God is active in our personal history. Like Nicodemus, we are invited to consciously notice how God is active in our stories, in our lives.

Take some time today to reflect on the last week of your life. Can you see how God has been active, how God has been loving you? Note down a few of those moments and then spend some time giving thanks to God for being present to you even when you have not been conscious of God’s activity.

Lord God,

Help me to see my life with new eyes, your eyes.

Teach me how to read the narrative of my own life so that I can see and rejoice in your work in my life.

Give me clarity of understanding this Lent.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
See more from Russell Pollitt SJ
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