There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.” Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3
I have a love/hate relationship with language. The written word is rather difficult for me. I am an atrocious speller and grammarian, which often makes me feel limited when I write. On the other hand, I love the spoken word, specifically vocabulary. It gives me great delight to discover obscure words that more precisely embody the ideas that I want to portray. My wife often teases me saying, “no one uses those kinds of words!” One term that I recently started to use is non sequitur. It is when one statement doesn’t logically connect to a previous statement or idea. This interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus presents what seems to be a huge non sequitur moment.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus to have a conversation. He opens the conversation with a compliment, “You have come from God… for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him” (v. 2) Jesus proceeds to talk about being born again. It feels rather jarring how seemingly disconnected Jesus’ words are from Nicodemus’. Without hesitation, Jesus begins to craft the conversation into a specific direction, without acknowledging Nicodemus’ opening statements.
Have you ever prayed for something or asked for wisdom and it felt like God either wasn’t answering or that his answer was different than you had hoped? Talking with Jesus is often like that. We come asking God to help us decide between two things and he gives us a third to consider. Jesus is far more interested in cutting to the deepest issues and the core of those issues. Jesus knows the inner workings of our hearts and minds and he often moves us past the issues we think are important and into those deeper things.
When was the last time you felt like God directed you in prayer? Take a moment to ask him to teach you to hear his voice. It is possible to hear the quiet voice of the Spirit when you pray but what he says often feels like a non sequitur. Don’t worry, sometimes that is how he gets us past the surface and into the heart of the matter.
By Aaron Bjorklund