We heard from Thomas, doubting Thomas, on Sunday. The next few days he’s joined in this week’s readings by Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, fluent in religious matters, but he comes to Jesus by night. Was it fear, human respect? Yet Jesus meets him at night. (John 3)
Nicodemus has questions but doesn’t understand Jesus’ answers.
“How can this happen?”
So Thomas isn’t the only skeptic, a lone dissenter. Others are slow to believe too.
There’s skepticism in us all.
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea– members of the Jewish ruling party – finally come forward at Jesus’ death.
Joseph asks Pilate for his body. Nicodemus brings an abundance of spices for his burial. They finally leave the darkness and follow Jesus into the light.
Here’s how John’s gospel describes them:
“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the authorities, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by. “(John 19, 39-42)
John’s Gospel sees the dark time of Jesus’ death bathed in glory. Nicodemus’ store of spices makes Jesus’ burial a kingly burial. And the new tomb in a garden suggests something wonderful about to happen.
The seed fallen to the ground will rise, bearing much fruit.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3,17)
“Everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” Everyone, even slow believers like Joseph and Nicodemus.