Today’s Reading: John 19
One hundred pounds is a lot of extra weight to carry with you. It is noticeable when you put it on and it’s noticeable when you shed it. Our story today is one hundred pounds put on and it’s noticeable, because you can’t hide one hundred pounds.
Let me tell you about a person whose name you will recognize. Nicodemus. And he picked up one hundred pounds on his Jesus journey. Nicodemus has a three-verse bio journey through the Gospel of John.
What do you think when I mention his name? For me, my first thought goes to John 3:16. He was the one to whom Jesus personally shared that amazing verse. Thanks to Nicodemus going to Jesus at night, we got the verse that has probably led more people to Jesus than any other Bible verse: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Thank you, Nicodemus, but there is so much more.
People can easily be known by one thing in their life and no one goes any further with them. It could be something they say, do, a crime they commit, a public sin they are known for, a heroic act. This can work both ways, good and bad. Something bad that someone has done can be remembered and all the good that they try to do is overshadowed by that one moment. Their character gets judged by that one thing.
Oswald Chambers, the great Christian devotional writer, said this about character:
Character is the whole trend of a man’s life, not isolated acts here and there. . . . Character is the sum total of a man’s actions. You cannot judge a man by the good things he does at times; you must take all the times together, and if in the greatest number of times he does bad things, he is a bad character, in spite of the noble things he does intermittently.”
A man’s character is what he does habitually. A man’s character cannot be summed up by what he does in spots, but only by what he is in the main trend of his existence. Character is that which steadily prevails, not something that occasionally manifests itself.
Now back to the man I want us to see a little further with—Nicodemus— and that his new Jesus journey gets more rooted as the Gospel goes on.
Nicodemus’ next verse happens in John 7:50, as we looked at earlier: “Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them).”
The parentheses are so important. “He who came to Him” is a reference to John 3, “before being one of them.” Nicodemus becomes a follower of Jesus after talking with Jesus that night. His interview, Nic at night, is what changed his life. In John 7, Nicodemus seems to be defending Jesus to the other pharisaical leaders. Though he is a slow witness, at least he is opening his mouth.
And then we see his final passage on how far he has come. It’s in John 19— and this is where the hundred pounds comes in: “Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight” (verse 39).
By the time we reach John 19, Nicodemus is unashamed and unafraid. He really is one of them, meaning a disciple of Jesus. Think about this: while everyone leaves Jesus at the crucifixion, not only does Nicodemus show up, he shows up with a lot of extra weight. Weight that he can’t hide. He does not flee and run and deny. He brings, get this, one hundred pounds of burial ingredients (myrrh and aloes). One hundred pounds he has to drag to the sight of the cross and then on to the grave. Everyone knows he is doing this for Jesus.
That tells me that he is unashamed. The people know who it is for and what it is for. He is very clearly aligning himself with Jesus on Good Friday. The ruler of the Jews and the spokesman for the Pharisees put on a hundred pounds for Jesus.
I love the process that happens in people’s lives. We want everything to happen instantly, but God has different growth patterns for different people. Give them their space, and they will get there.
Here’s what I love about this John 19 story: it’s that he dragged a hundred pounds of stuff to the burial site. He wasn’t preaching and giving these glorious words like, “Jesus, I will never deny you.” He just lived it out. It is life and not words that impact. We have great speakers for Christianity but not everyone who can speak is living it. Let’s spend more time living than speaking.
Remember, the preachers were all gone at the cross, but Nic was there. Nic and a hundred pounds. He was all in when it counted most. Follow his example. Live it.