Have you ever noticed the number of questions found in the gospels? We have Zechariah’s request for assurance from the angel Gabriel about the son promised he and Elizabeth, “How will I know that this is so? (Luke 1:18); Mary’s question of Gabriel, “How can these things be?” (Luke 1:34); Thomas asking, “How can we now the way? (John 14:5) and 180 additional questions asked of Jesus.
Would it surprise you then that Jesus is never presented as the answer man in the Gospels? In fact, Jesus asks many more questions than he ever answers – three hundred and seven to be exact. Of all the questions asked of Jesus, he directly answers only three. Imagine that: for every question Jesus answered directly, he asked a hundred!
The famous Gospel Lectionary passage for today from John 3, tells the story of Nicodemus who comes at night with questions for Jesus. He lead with something he knows – “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God” and after listening to Jesus’ answer, has something he needs to know – “How can these things be?” Being born again? Being born of water and spirit? Being born from above? Say what Jesus? It seems as though in the darkness nothing Jesus says makes sense to him.
I’ve been there before and I’d wager that you have too. I’d bet that all of us could tell stories about times and places in our lives where we feel afraid, abandoned and alone – the nighttimes of our lives. The nighttimes of life are difficult places for most of us. It’s not so much the darkness itself but the fear and questions the darkness brings. And just like Nicodemus, we want answers to our questions.
But what if the nighttimes of life are an invitation from God to draw closer to Him? What if they are intended to open us more fully to the Spirit’s work in us? What if there is a light in us that only darkness can illuminate?