Jesus cryptically reveals to Nicodemus that He is the Son of Man who will be crucified. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Obedience so he can embrace the obedience of the Catholic Faith and by seeking the Gift of Knowledge from the Holy Sprit so he can draw closer to Jesus Christ in study and in prayer.

Commentary

After Jesus travels to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover and violently clears the massive Temple, He begins to preach and perform other signs. Nicodemus, a member of the ruling Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, was impressed by Jesus but had not yet been graced to know that He is the Son of God. Curious, Nicodemus approaches Jesus in the darkness of night, fearing persecution by other Sanhedrin members who hate Jesus and will eventually kill Him. In their discussion, Jesus emphatically told the confused Nicodemus about the need to be born “from above” through the Spirit in Baptism (Jn 3:1-8).

Because Nicodemus does not understand that Jesus is God, he is unable to accept Jesus’ revelation, and remains confused. Jesus rebukes him sharply, lamenting that despite Nicodemus being a prominent teacher in Israel, he does not grasp that men must seek the Grace of God in an outpouring of the Spirit to convert their hearts to God; this teaching was previously revealed by well-known Scripture passages from the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezek 36:25-27), passages that Nicodemus, as a member of the Sanhedrin, should know.

Jesus now discloses both His Divinity and the eternal salvation that will come from His Passion to those willing to believe in Him. Stunningly, Jesus, speaking as a Person of the Trinity (“we speak”), asserts that He can speak of Heavenly things for He has descended from Heaven, and those who believe in Him will have eternal life, for He is the long-expected Son of Man (the Messiah). Referring to Moses’ lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness to save the faithless men of Israel (Num 21:4-9), Jesus mysteriously refers to His coming Passion when He will be lifted up on the Cross to save those who gaze upon Him and believe.

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Marvel at how Jesus, the Divine King and the greatest Leader of men, patiently invests His time in the well-regarded Nicodemus (whose name means, “conquerer of the people”), a leader of the powerful Sanhedrin, who will go on to defend Jesus against the unjust attacks by other Jewish elites (Jn 7:50-51), help bury Jesus in the tomb and eventually become a Catholic and a saint (The Feast Day of St. Nicodemus is August 3).

Embrace the Obedience of Faith

Realize: Because Nicodemus has not yet realized and accepted the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, he lacks the obedience of faith, resists Jesus’ teaching and is unable to grasp the truth; like Nicodemus, Catholic men sometimes believe they know better and resist the teachings of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Obedience of Faith (CCC 144-149).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Obedience (a part of Justice) so I resist the temptation to pridefully rebel, and imitate Your Son by humbly accepting and obediently submitting to the teachings of the Church, even when I have not yet fully understood the beauty of Your Truth.

Learn about Jesus in study and meet Him in prayer

Realize: Despite his ignorance that Jesus is God, Nicodemus draws near to Jesus as a “rabbi” to grow in faith; in this, Nicodemus unknowingly confirms that Jesus is the source of all Wisdom. 

Believe: Reconfirm that Christ is the heart of all catechesis (CCC 426-429).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Knowledge so I motivated to learn all I can about Jesus through the study of Scripture and the Magisterium and be given the gift of knowing Him by personally experiencing His Presence in my life.