1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born 3 from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind 4 blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to him, "How can this happen?" Jesus answered and said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
In his commentary, Binz describes Nicodemus as a man who gradually came to know the Lord. When he first approached Jesus, he did so at night so as to not drawn attention to himself. Nicodemus questioned Jesus about his teachings in an effort to understand. As that understanding took root inside of him, Nicodemus was changed. He was transformed. In these two passages, we see the transformation from a man with questions to a man who sought to lavishly serve the Lord.
Sometimes our conversion process isn't a night and day experience. Seeds are planted here and there. Maybe a homily catches our attention. Or the prayer of a friend really moves us. And when you compile these experiences together, over time, they change us. God gently molds our hearts until we recognize our need for Him in our lives. And when that light bulb starts to come on, awesome things happen.
I was at a retreat last weekend. It was the second time I had been on this particular retreat. In the previous retreat, we wrote all our sins and things that keep us from knowing God on rocks. And then we threw the rocks into the lake. Last weekend, my friend and I were walking along the shore of that same lake. We noticed all the debris that washed up on the shore. My friend turned to me and said, "I hope our rocks don't wash up! I wrote a book on that thing. I would be afraid for someone to read it." We laughed and then we started talking about our rocks. And in the conversation, I realized that those rocks have been sitting in flowing water. There is probably not a word left on them. They have been washed clean. Jesus is the living water. If we let him flow in us and through us, we are washed clean and made new. That is the conversion process. Its letting go of selfish desires and desiring that living water- desiring God in your life. I imagine it took a while for Nicodemus to allow that living water bubble up inside of him. But once he did, he couldn't help but show his love for the Lord. So, he showed up in the darkest hour with a lavish amount of burial spices and anointed the body of the Lord. His conversion was slow but complete. And that is what matters.