Do we live in Babylon?
Or, are we living in the land of promise?
Is our world one of darkness,
or do we live our lives in the light of God’s love?
If our lives seem dark, if our lives seem troubled,
sad, or desperate, then we are,
like the Hebrew people
who lived seven hundred years before Jesus,
living in exile.
People who live in exile struggle to believe
because they are so far away from home;
because they live in darkness.
Nicodemus came to Jesus during the night,
and the night was something more than the time of day.
The night was a dark cloak of secrecy;
the night was the darkness of doubt and disbelief.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, he was a member of the Sanhedrin,
which made him a member of the ruling class
of the Jewish people in Jesus’ day.
He saw Jesus as a great man, one who was filled with God.
However, this vision of Jesus was a skeptical one.
He saw Jesus as a wonder worker, more like a magician.
He wanted to believe, but was very much afraid to
because believing in Jesus
would have been very dangerous for him.
It would have threatened his position on the Sanhedrin,
and it would have completely changed his system of belief.
That kind of change is very difficult for anyone who is a person of faith.
Five times we heard Jesus tell Nicodemus
about the importance of believing.
Believing that Jesus was lifted up in exaltation on the cross
leads to eternal life.
Believing that God loves the world so much
that he sent his only Son, leads to eternal life.
Believing in Jesus Christ leads to living in his light,
We almost hear Jesus begging Nicodemus to believe in him.
Nicodemus, do not live in the darkness.
Nicodemus, do not live in doubt.
Nicodemus, do not live in this kind of exile,
it is a place of evil, it is a place of darkness.
People who live in darkness fear the light
because within the dark cloak of secrecy
they huddle in fear assuming that God does not see them,
know them, or love them.
Believing in Jesus Christ, though, begins with grace;
it begins with the gift of faith.
While faith does not answer the mysteries of God
and life in his kingdom,
it does inform our intellect so that from the depths of our wills
we can choose to believe.
Believing, then, provides the light
that leads us out of the darkness of exile
into the eternal light of God’s kingdom.
This is a moment for us to ponder deeply,
are we in Babylon, the place of being uprooted,
the land of shame,
the darkness of hate and violence?
If we are, then Christ begs us to believe in him.
Christ begs us to believe that the cross is our hope for salvation.
Christ begs us to believe that God’s love for us is so great
that he would give us his Son to forgive us,
to take away all of our shame,
all of our doubt, all of our fear,
and to bless our lives with light;
the light of eternal life.