“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night. . .” (John 3:1-2a).
There are moments when the masses gather, and momentous things transpire: The feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:21); the triumphal entry to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9); and there are moments, seemingly insignificant moments, mundane moments of profundity, eternal treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Such was the meeting of Jesus with Nicodemus, a small encounter, under cover of night, in secret so as not to be seen of men; but a meeting, nonetheless, where the foundations of the Gospel are laid.
“Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born again” (John 3:7).
Before you can see the Kingdom of God (v3); before you can enter the Kingdom of God (v5); “you must be born again”. Yes, “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and abides forever” (I Peter 1:23).
Never despise the significance of small encounters, those common times of conversations with friends, brothers/sisters in the Lord, with family, those private conversations with a Pastor, Elder, Counselor, Teacher, Advisor and Confidante. There are times of prayer, breaking of bread, asking advice and searching for truth, as Nicodemus was with Jesus:
“Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God for no man can do these miracles that you do except God be with him” (John 3:2).
Jesus knew why Nicodemus came to Him by night. Before Nicodemus asked one question, having only stated that he knew Jesus was of God, Jesus gave him the nugget of truth for which his heart was searching: “you must be born again.” Nicodemus had no clue what that phrase meant, but he had his answer. “How can these things be?” (v9) was all he could say from his natural mind at the time; revelation would have to come later.
One small encounter with profound impact for Nicodemus and for the world; for that small encounter was recorded in the Gospel of John for all to read and to believe.
The Woman at the Well. A nameless woman, an ordinary chore, another day to draw water at the well. But this small encounter was with the Master, the Lord, the Messiah.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, ‘Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you Living Water'” (John 4:10).
Once again Jesus gives us a precious nugget, a treasure for the soul. The woman inquires of Him further concerning the well and the water. It is Jacob’s well and Jesus has nothing in hand for which to draw water. Undeterred Jesus continues the encounter:
“Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).
Oh, the marvel of His words. Eternal truth spoken so simply, so easily, so eloquently to the ear, heart, spirit and soul. Refreshing as the water itself. Is it any wonder we reference “the water of the word” (cf. Ephesians 5:26)?
Worship in Spirit and Truth. The woman inquires still further from this Prophet concerning the place of worship for she was a Samaritan and worshipped on Mount Gerizim and the Jews in Jerusalem.
“Woman, believe Me, the hour comes when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father. . .the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21,23-24).
Small encounters that bring us the profound wisdom of God, eternal truths that save our souls.
Small encounters, seemingly so insignificant, so ordinary, yet out from them come life changing messages of hope, comfort, peace, direction, and salvation.
Paying Taxes. “And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. . .And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the City of Nazareth into Judea, unto the City of David which is called Bethlehem. . .to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife being great with Child. And so it was that while they were there the days were accomplished that she should be delivered; and she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1,4-5-7).
Paying taxes, a baby born into the world, in the small town of Bethlehem, Judea. Just another day, a small encounter, but oh the magnitude of it all. An encounter that changed the course of history, an encounter that brought the Advent of the Messiah and salvation to the world.
Oh, little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie,
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. . .
Just small encounters.