More than we see
It reminded me of the story of the rich young man who was told by Jesus to sell everything he owned, give the proceeds to the poor and then return and follow. So many pastors who preach about this young man bemoan the "fact" that he turned away, sad, and did not follow Jesus. How do we know that?
Do we think Jesus' persuasive abilities are so week that if there is not an immediate response that there will never be a response? Do we read into the responses of Nicodemus and the young man our own responses to Jesus, and assume they will be the same? Why are we unwilling to entertain the idea that the two men walked away with seeds of change planted in their minds?
Actually, John goes on to mention that Nicodemus supplied the burial spices after Jesus' crucifixion and assisted Joseph of Arimethea in the burial. Christian tradition holds that Nicodemus was martyred for his faith in Christ, and some scholars believe that Nicodemus in John is also Nicodemus ben Gurion, mentioned in the Talmud as a wealthy and popular holy man who may have had miraculous powers (Wikipedia). Whatever happened to Nicodemus, I am willing to believe that the seeds planted by Christ grew into faith through grace.
And then the poor young rich man, who is always portrayed as having chosen his possessions over Christ. Is that the final word? Or will we be open enough to believe there is more to the story?
And will we be open enough with the people around us, offering them the grace of believing there is more to their stories than is evident to us at the moment?