Holy Everything: ‘Like a wise and mysterious sage’
For this year’s Lenten series, “Holy Everything” is featuring meditations written from the perspectives of people with whom Jesus interacted in the Gospels. Today we hear from Nicodemus.
My grandfather believed in the importance of intellectual debate, and he wanted his children and grandchildren to value it, too. From a young age, I remember spending entire afternoons with my siblings constructing our arguments and then debating for hours as grandfather provided his critiques and suggestions.
Grandfather taught us never to get emotional during disputes but instead to remain calm and rational. He said, “Don’t be afraid of ideas. Instead, ask questions.” He taught us that to study and debate about religious matters was a way of honoring God.
As I got older, my family recognized that I had the skills necessary to be a religious leader. I was honored, and I studied night and day to prepare for such a sacred calling. Grandfather was proud of me.
Sadly, he died before I completed my studies. His wisdom and guidance have remained with me always. Many years later, it was the memory of my grandfather and his love of questions that led me to Jesus.
Late one night, after hours of restless sleep, I went to the home where Jesus was staying. He didn’t know me but I knew about him. I’d seen him perform miracles, and my sister was a guest at a wedding where he turned six large jugs of water into wine. I was at the temple the day he flipped over the merchants’ tables and told everyone to stop turning his father’s house into a marketplace.
I wasn’t afraid of Jesus or his teachings, but I did want to ask him questions. I wanted to understand.
It was during our conversation that Jesus spoke some of his most remembered words. He said that God loved the world and its inhabitants very much … so much that God’s Son was given to the world so that everyone who believed in him would live forever.
Talking with Jesus was like speaking to a wise and mysterious sage. The more time I spent with him, the more curious I became about God and truth. Everything he said felt like an extension of what I’d spent my life studying. He added new layers of depth and meaning.
As time went by, it became clear that not everyone enjoyed Jesus’ company. In fact, many despised him. They found his teachings to be heretical. Months passed, and I tried to warn Jesus that he was in danger and should avoid public confrontations. He wasn’t afraid and continued to heal, preach and teach. Jesus was unapologetic about his understanding of the ways of God, and he spoke with utter conviction regardless of the consequences.
Soon after, he was sentenced to death and crucified at Golgotha. My friend, Joseph, and I asked Pilate if we could take Jesus’ body and prepare it for burial. The process took several hours. Our tears mixed with the fragrant oils and spices that we massaged into his lifeless arms and legs. Then we wrapped him in strips of linen. After we had finished preparing his body for burial, we laid him in a tomb in a nearby garden. Joseph and I were numb with heartbreak and went our separate ways after we walked back into the city.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the story of Jesus didn’t end there. Miraculously, he came back to life and then a short time later ascended into heaven.
I wish he could’ve stuck around. I also wish my grandfather had been alive to meet him. They both taught me so much, and I suspect they would’ve had some lively debates.