Cailin Ciuin (The Quiet Girl) is a 2022 Film in Gaelic about a girl who stays the Summer at the home of her mother’s cousin and when she returns home wants to live with the mother’s cousin and her husband. We can’t choose the family we are born into but if we want to we all can choose to be part of the family of Christ. Nicodemus eventually made that life changing choice.
Nicodemus is mentioned three times in the Gospel of John. Nicodemus had a very important position of leadership in the Jewish religion. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews. The word Jews here means the group within Judaism that was most opposed to Jesus and who were trying to kill him. So he was a leader within this group.
In John 3 Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night.
In John 7 after the religious leaders had tried to arrest Jesus, Nicodemus spoke up among the group who were plotting the downfall and death of Jesus. He asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?”
In John 19 after Jesus was crucified Nicodemus came with Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus' body for burial and they took Jesus' body, wrapped it and laid Jesus in the tomb.
Three times it mentions that Nicodemus was the one who came to Jesus at night. John 19 tells us that Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple as he was afraid of the Jews. This is probably why Nicodemus came at night too, under the cover of darkness, in secret to meet with Jesus, whom his group regarded as the enemy.
Throughout the gospel we see a movement by Nicodemus from the safety and secrecy of the cover of darkness, to raising a question amongst his peers, a question that caused his pears to question his knowledge of their tradition, to finally coming out into the light, fully exposing himself as a follower of Jesus at his crucifixion, touching and carrying the body of a condemned criminal.
In these three snapshots we see the gradual conversion of Nicodemus. He hears the gospel, he is challenged by the words of Jesus that ‘no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus considers it. He counts the cost and he demonstrates his faith by physically taking up the body of Jesus and placing it to rest in a tomb.
Often evangelists expect their hearers to immediately respond to the words of John 3 which say one must be born again and For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. We push for a decision, for us to choose now. But a deep and lasting conversion, a life of truly following Jesus requires one to deeply consider Jesus' call to discipleship, to be opened to the kingdom of God, to count the cost and to follow not just with the mind or out of fear or for selfish gain but with one's whole being, heart, mind, soul and strength.
Nicodemus truly came out from the shadows into the clearness of day when he stepped out from the crowd to bury Jesus. His faith was fully formed in him and action flowed together with faith as one.
All his peers would have seen him or heard what he did. I imagine he lost his place as a leader, perhaps he was no longer welcome among them or in their Synagogues or at the Temple. We don't know what happened to him. We just have these three snapshots.
Our faith is never some private thing that we believe in our heads, hidden from others. Real faith is always lived out in our lives among other. Real faith is not just lived in church or theological college or the Presbytery but in every part of our lives in every time and place, night and day, all year round.
Jesus challenges Nicodemus in John 3: 21 to come into the light.
Like the quiet girl (Cailin ciuin), none of us can do anything about the family we have been born into but we can choose to be born again or born from above. We can choose to come into the light.
We can choose to live by the Spirit. This is entering into eternal life.
As we follow Jesus we begin to see life differently. We see People differently. We see God differently.
We begin to change and be changed. We begin to see from above or from a different place a different perspective and not only see but be different to who we were. We are now children of light, bearers of light. The darknesses of the world are revealed to us. We can no longer participate in dishonesty and injustice. We are light.
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation