During that secret interview at Jesus’ place of retirement on the Mount of Olives, when the city was hushed in slumber, it wasn’t the flickering lamp or torchlight, or the pale light of the moon, that shown into the heart of Nicodemus, that “master of Israel.” It was the burning words of an obscure Galilean whom this leader had sought out. Nicodemus was drawn by Jesus’ teaching, authority and wonderful manifestation of divine power, not only in cleansing the temple, but also in receiving the poor and healing the sick. It matched what he had found as he had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah.

Can you sense the excitement he must have felt in that Bible study, driven by events swirling around him? This was the One who was to come!

But something was not right. As Nicodemus opened the dialog, his attempt to express and invite confidence fell flat. The words that came out expressed unbelief instead.

Jesus, in His gentle and penetrating manner, brushed past the awkwardness and formalities, and laid bare the foundational principles of truth. You know what He said.

Or do you? Listen again, and reflect.

Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song.

You must be born again—of water, and of the Spirit. The Son of man must be lifted up. God so loved the world that He gave—His only begotten Son. Nicodemus, I am the one that God gave to the world. He gave Me! I’ve come to save, not condemn. The condemnation is already here, through unbelief. It will remain if men love darkness when the light shines.

Light dispels darkness, but so many run from the light, like the cockroaches when you flip the switch. What is the principle that is so threatening?

It is what Jesus put His firm finger on in His second solemn statement of “Verily, verily I say unto you,” We speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen; and you have not received our witness.

Who are the “we”? It seems that there was only Jesus and Nicodemus present that night in the dark. Were others there? Jesus’ testimony later would make this clear, “I am not alone” (John 16:32; John 8:29). Present that night with Jesus and Nicodemus was the Father. It was the Father, the One whose kingdom it is, as well as the Holy Spirit, that were, along with Jesus, gently but strongly like the wind moving Nicodemus’ heart in the direction of Jesus.

Do you sense the significance of this three-fold witness? Do you want to join the witness?

Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which “seeketh not her own” has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto. (Desire of Ages, pp. 19-20).

[Reflections on John 3; Desire of Ages, chapter 17.]

Director at Adventist Pioneer Library

Fred Bischoff became involved in Adventist history while working as a preventive medicine physician in southern California for Kaiser Permanente and serving on the clinical faculty, School of Medicine and School of Public Health, Loma Linda University. He finds his greatest joy in exploring and explaining "the simplicity that is in Christ" in relation to history and prophecy, which culminate in the Adventist mission.