February 10 I Friday
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.’ 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.” —John 3:14-16
In the middle of the night, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, went to meet Jesus because of what he saw Jesus had done. Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. Nicodemus asked, “How can this be?” and Jesus explained by referring to the story of Moses lifting up the snake in the wilderness and how the Son of Man must also be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
What is eternal life? The word “eternal” is not just about length, because the word means, “no beginning and no end” as opposed to “everlasting” which means, “no end, but presupposes a beginning.” There is only one eternal life and that is the life of God, which is why Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Not that the gift from God is eternal life, rather, the gift of God is eternal life. In other words, God is the gift, as He Himself comes to live that eternal life in us. John 3:36 tells us, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life....” John 5:24 says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life....” Did we notice in these verses that eternal life is not spoken of in the future tense but in the present tense? For those of us who believe, we have eternal life now.
But what does it mean to believe? There are two ways in which we use the word “believe.” For example, “do you believe in Tylenol?” The question is not whether one believes that there is a little red box with little white pills inside it, but an implication of whether or not one believes Tylenol works. To go to God, we must believe that He is God and allow Him to enter and occupy our life, soul and heart. In Jesus’s high priestly prayer, He prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3). To have eternal life is to know God and to have a relationship with God.
Although we do not know Nicodemus’s response to what Jesus said that night, we do know he was at Jesus’s crucifixion. Along with Joseph of Arimathea, he asked permission for the body. No Pharisee would touch a dead body, as it was considered unclean, but Nicodemus did. It took the death of Jesus for Nicodemus to believe—it is never too late for us to believe in Jesus.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for Nicodemus as an example that it is never too late for us to believe in You. I pray for those who have yet to believe in You to come to faith in You. In Jesus’s name, amen!