Nicodemus surely cried as he joined Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus. He brought an extraordinary amount of myrrh and aloes as if he were burying a king. As they carefully decorated the man they believed was innocent if not sent by God, Nicodemus may have felt the sting of cowardice. He might have even wondered if things would have turned out differently if he would have spoken up in the council. Perhaps he regretted not putting his life on the line for Jesus and instead watched Him from afar in the crowd.
He likely remembered the first time he met Jesus. He had snuck out in the night because he was afraid of what people would think. He thought he was going to have an enjoyable back and forth conversation about God and Israel. Instead, he was told he was so far outside of God and His Kingdom that he had to be born all over again! Every degree he earned, every good work he did, every trophy on his shelf, every accolade from the people; worthless!
Nicodemus wished he could be born again – and maybe this time he would not have betrayed his friend. He would make things right. Jesus would not die. He would be a hero!
Maybe you have regrets, would ofs, could ofs, should ofs. We all do. If we could go back in time, we would make better decisions, use different words, stand up for what is right, etc. We could save our marriages, our jobs, even our lives.
I doubt it. We might change some things, but we would probably find other ways to mess up and maybe worse than the first time. The movie Groundhog Day has it wrong. We have a tragic flaw like Hamlet or that poor little preschooler who cannot help but knock down his brother’s sandcastle.
When Jesus said you must be born all over again, He did not mean you get a second chance. Some Christians teach and believe this, which is more condemning than what the Pharisees taught! Commit yourself to Jesus and try again, but this time He will help you cross the finish line. We need a lot more than help. We need be born from different materials than our parents. We need to be made new in the person of Christ.
Nicodemus did not know it at the time, that as he was burying Jesus with myrrh and aloes, he was also burying his regrets, his would ofs, could ofs, and should ofs. He was burying himself with Jesus. And Jesus gladly took them all, even the ones from those who cowardly let Him die.
Three days later, Jesus rose again with the marks of our sins still on Him, but no longer on us! As he told Nicodemus, He commanded His disciples to go make people new in the waters of baptism. Saint Paul says,
“Do you not know that when you were baptized into Christ, you were baptized into His death? We were, therefore, buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life!” (Romans 6).
In baptism we are not just given a second chance, we are given a new life! We are given a life which is no longer under the Law, nor death, never to die again. It is not a second chance; it is a final existence. We are free from our sins, free from a righteous punishment, free to give it our best to do the right thing but dwelling in His forgiveness we are free from being strangled by our obsession with our errors!
Got regrets? Give them to Jesus. He took them and He takes them and gives you His righteousness and eternal optimism!