Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Man Who Sneaked Up to the Roof At Night


By Mary Vee
John 2-3



From Nicodemus's Journal 

Photo by Mary Vee
Taken in Joppa, Israel. This was typical
housing used even in Jesus' day.
See the one section of roof above the light?
I was in Jerusalem during passover week. My name is Nicodemus and I have studied many years to become a Pharisee and be called one of the ruler of the Jews. I know a lot about the Scriptures, can quote words and tell you what they mean. There are many requirements and tests to pass before someone earns the right to be a Pharisee and I placed high in my class. But I must admit I have unanswered questions.

I've listened to the priests, read the Scriptures everyday, and spent so much time trying to find the answers to my questions. Then I saw this man who came to Jerusalem whose name was Jesus. From the moment I first saw him I knew this passover week would be different. 

People watched Jesus. They saw Him do miracles. They followed Him wherever He went and said things like they believed on His name. Jesus didn't seem moved by their words. It was as if He knew those people said those words just so they could see more miracles. 

I liked His honesty.

I wanted to speak with Him alone, maybe ask Him my questions. I didn't want to be seen by any of the other Pharisees so I went to the place where Jesus stayed. I waited until it was late at night. He was with a few other disciples on the roof. In Israel the weather is warm enough to use the roof as a room. Some use it for a bedroom, some use it for dining, or a gathering room.

Photo by Mary Vee
Taken in Joppa, Israel.
This shows how close the houses were
and the narrow streets. 
I went up the stairs to the roof and asked to speak with Him. He offered me a place to sit and patiently waited for me to speak. "Rabbi," I said. Rabbi means teacher. I know, a learned man such as myself wouldn't normally call someone he didn't know, Rabbi, but it just seemed to be the right thing to do. 

The other Pharisees had talked about Jesus and they seemed to agree that He was a teacher who had come from God based on the miracles he did and the words he spoke. I said, "Only someone who had God with him could do the miracles you do."

Jesus said to me, "I tell you the truth, unless a person is born from above, it is impossible to see the kingdom of God."

I heard his words but didn't understand what He meant. "How can a man be born when he is old? No one can go back inside his mother and be born again."

Jesus patiently spoke, "I will explain it differently. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. As a human, you were given your human birth by your human mother, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. Look now, you can't be surprised at my words about being born again. All right, let's try again. The wind blows wherever it pleases, right?"

"Yes."

"You hear the wind, right?"

"Yes. At times more than others."

"Right. But can you tell where it comes from or where it is going?"

"No. It seems like we could but the wind changes without any reason, blowing in every direction."

"Life in the Spirit is like the wind of God."

All of this was new to me. I wanted to hear more. "I'm still not sure how this can be."

Jesus shook his head. "You are one of Israel's teachers and you do not understand these things? It is this way, we talk about what we know, and we tell others what we've seen, but even after the miracles and the words I've spoken people don't accept what I'm saying. I've even explained using things from the earth and you still don't believe. How then will you be able to understand the heavenly things?

He said, "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven, that is the Son of Man." Jesus paused. 

I was thankful because I really wanted to understand. I really did. 

He said, "Think of it this way, Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 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."

He smiled gently and said, "God didn't send his Son into the word to condemn the word, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in his Son is not condemned. Those who don't believe in God's Son are condemned already."

Jesus said, "I have another way to explain, Light has come into the world. Men, though loved darkness instead of light because the things they did were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light because they know their evil deeds will be seen. Those who live by the truth aren't afraid to come into he light because the things they have done have been done through God."

I finally understood. "Thank you, Rabbi."  I walked back to my home that night and replayed all the words Jesus said in my mind over and over. I was so glad He was willing to answer my questions.

Note from Mary: Jesus knew which explanation Nicodemus would need but he also gave the other explanations because He also knew many people like us would read or hear this story and would need one of the other explanations. He thought of all of us when He answered Nicodemus.

Come back for the next story.

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sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*My notes from my trip to Israel.

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