If the first Sunday in Lent point us to Christ the victor, the rest of Lent has us focus on the nature of that victory. It is not like the victory which we might expect. It is the victory of the cross, a victory which comes through what looks like defeat. Nicodemus struggles to see that. He is still in the dark. But we have to admit that we are in the dark as well. God’s strange and upside-down kingdom continues to confront us with its strangeness.
But John is aware of that. I have been teaching a class on John in my Sunday study this year. As always, when I return to familiar Scripture I am struck by how much it has yet to teach me. Passages which I thought I knew so well always have a wealth of new comfort, admonition, and blessing for me. I have been struck this time reading the Gospel just how much John is aware of the process of coming to faith. Do a word search on Nicodemus and see how he progresses in the Gospel. In this first encounter he comes at night. In chapter seven he speaks up tentatively on Jesus’ behalf. But the end of the Gospel, while it is still day, he comes forward to claim Jesus’ body and honor it. Called out of darkness and into the light, Nicodemus becomes an exemplar of what God is working in us.
The readings this week are powerful testimonies to the Good News of Christ. You will get another shot at these readings, do not feel you need to preach it all. Be patient, pray, discern, and preach the good news which your people need to hear today.