“Nick, it’s late, where are you going?” The question was raised by more than an acquaintance, a friend maybe, the voice familiar at any rate.
“Shhhh,” was the terse reply.
A chill hung heavy in the air. There were voices up ahead, men, maybe as many as ten or twelve. You could see the faint flicker of a bonfire, shadows dancing among Junipers and spilling over into the starry night, the distant verbal tones harmonizing amidst a cricket chorus and the weak crackling of an undernourished blaze.
Nick’s response was barely audible. “I have to find out what’s going on,” he whispered. “Don’t follow me.”
Like a thief in the night, Nick was gone – pressing on slowly in the stillness, certain of his destination and unrelenting in his quest for the answer to his question. But it was a dangerous mission and his reputation was at stake. He was concealed by the night and under no obligation to explain himself. His was a pursuit to discover the truth...but he did not want witnesses and was in no mood to inform his uninvited company.
Nick found his way to the clearing and inched closer, staying within the confines of the darkness until a partially buried twig snapped beneath the weight of his foot. The voices ceased at once. “Who goes there?” cried an unidentified insider.
Nick froze for a second, but all eyes were fixed on his position. A second voice commanded, “Step forward and reveal yourself!” Nick seemed somewhat relieved at the awkward invitation, and though he was mortified about eavesdropping on the misunderstood radicals, he put one foot in front of the other and slowly stepped into the glow of burning embers.
A third voice broke the uneasy silence. This voice was different... compassionate and inviting, gentle. “Come join us, Nick, I have been waiting for you.”
Nick eased forward and stood silent before the shadowy silhouettes. Eventually, he spoke in the direction of the kind one, hesitant but calm: “Teacher, I...know that you are from God. There can be no other explanation for the marvelous wonders that You have accomplished among us. No one has ever brought the Scriptures to life as you do and no man before you has ever taught love and lived love as though he were God Himself .”
The gentle voice replied: “You hide from your peers in the obscurity of night, yet you appear to strangers, seeking the reality of God’s kingdom. How is it that you dread the reproof of your Jewish Council more than you fear eternal separation from Jehovah God? Do you not know that your eyes will be blinded to the truth unless you are born of the Spirit?”
Nick protested: “But how can a man be born twice? Isn’t that impossible?”
“You must come out of hiding and seek the true Light. Only those who believe in the One sent from above will reside in the Kingdom of God. Those who do not believe will remain in the dark. Light has come into the world but those who do not seek the light will remain hidden in the darkness.”
Nick had no doubt that he was in the presence of the promised Messiah, but he did not know what to do with the facts. His associates would ridicule the mere suggestion that this divine prophecy had been fulfilled...declaring it preposterous. They outnumbered him and their power prevailed. He stood alone, unwilling for now to reveal his belief. His search for the truth was complete but presently, his faith would remain a secret...until that day when he and Joseph would remove Jesus’ body from the cross. Only then would Nick step out of the night and into the light.
(From John 3)
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