The Clarity of the Crucifixion (John 18-19)

[Joseph of Arimathea] was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.  Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. (John 19:39)

The crucifixion of Jesus brought many things to light and it was a clarifying event in the lives of those who were Jesus’ followers.  In fact, it was until after the crucifixion that the disciples understood all that Jesus had been teaching them.  Up to that point, Jesus was a political messiah who would free the Jews from the the evil Roman oppression.  For Nicodemus, it was seeing Jesus on the cross that helped him understand an earlier conversation that the two had had during a late-night encounter.

When the two met, Jesus retold a bizarre Old Testament story wherein the Israelites offended God, and God sent venomous serpents to destroy them.  In an act of repentance, God told Moses to fashion a bronze serpent and to place it on a pole.  When anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze figure on the pole, he or she would be healed.  It was an act of grace and trust – God gave them what they didn’t deserve, but they had to believe that looking at the snake would heal them.

When Jesus was crucified, he became like the bronze serpent that God told Moses to make.  Nicodemus, looking at Jesus on the cross, finally connected the dots with what Jesus had told him before – he could look at Jesus on the cross and be saved.  That’s why Nicodemus brought enough spices to bury a king – he finally understood that he needed to trust.

The same is true for all of us.  Our forgiveness for our sins doesn’t come from being a good person, saying the right things, or showing up at church.  It simply comes from believing.  If you’d like to know more about Nicodemus, check out the message Trust Issues from a recent sermon series at our church.  If you’d like to know more about how to trust in Jesus, please contact me; I’d love to tell you more!

Father, thank You for the cross.  Thank You for Nicodemus’ life and the the journey You took him on of understanding what Christ did.  Please take us on that same journey.  Open our minds to fully understand all that You did for us in sending Christ.