Sitting with Jesus: Nicodemus Reading: John 3:1-21
Nicodemus means: “Victor over people.”
His family is unknown, though some recognise him as Nicodemus Ben Gorion, the brother of Josephus, the great Jewish Historian. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. A Pharisee. A learned scholar. At this time he was one of the three wealthiest men in Jerusalem.
Nicodemus came to Jesus “at night.” Many have criticised him for doing so. Saying that he was weak willed, afraid of people. Selfish to maintain his position, power and wealth. Seeking to keep his reputation intact. However, by coming to Jesus at night there were no crowds, no defensive disciples. This was his opportunity to ask the burning questions that are on his heart and in his mind. Nicodemus is being wise. Jesus is relaxed and focused. They can share honestly and openly with each other – without interruption. In short, Nicodemus did not want to miss his opportunity to talk to Jesus. Tomorrow may be too late if Jesus has moved on to another village.
As an aside, nonetheless a very important aside, during Covid days many have found it difficult to sleep at night. I, for one, have had many conversations with The Lord in the early hours. I am so, so glad that He neither slumbers or sleeps!
This is a Wonderful “Gospel In A Nutshell Chapter” – John chapter 3. I am glad that The Holy Spirit had this conversation recorded in The Bible.
If we look in chapter 2 of John, verses 23 – 25 we read something very interesting – Jesus does not entrust Himself to everyone! As chapter 3 unfolds we realise that Jesus does not entrust Himself to Nicodemus.
Nicodemus approaches Jesus and asks three questions.
The first one is an implied question.
Q1: Jesus Who Are You?
(v2) “He came to Jesus at night and said, Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with Him. Behind the statement is Nicodemus’ question, “But, Jesus, who are You, really?!”
Jesus’ answer draws Nicodemus into a conversation (v3) “Very truly I tell you, no one can see The Kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Q2: How Can Someone be Born when they are Old?
Read: v5 – 8
Jesus states clearly, (v7b) “You must be born again!”
- We are all sinners
- We all need to repent of our sin
- We all need to choose to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord of our lives
- To be Born of Water – physical birth
- To be Born of The Spirit – spiritual birth
When sharing The Gospel with people we need to be open to The Spirit of God. To hear the key from The Holy Spirit that will enable their new birth.
Q3: How Can This Be?
I’m so glad that Nicodemus asked this question – accepting both his personal lack of knowledge and his vulnerability. When I did a PGCCE with the University of Nottingham we were told – “encourage questions.” I agree, that’s how I learn. If one student has the question probably, 80% of them in the class have the same, or similar, question, they are just too shy to ask.
Nicodemus’ third question enabled Jesus to give 3 answers, one of which is possibly the most quoted of all the Scripture verses in The Bible, John 3:16. It is good to remember that that verse came out of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.
Answer One: The Death of Jesus (v14 – 15)
Answer Two: The Love of God The Father (v16 – 17)
Answer Three: The Human Responsibility Factor (v18 – 21)
We are told no more about what happened that night. But Jesus teaches us, “by their fruits you know them.” (Matthew 7:16a)
Read: John 7:37 – 52
Read: John 19:39 – 42
Some conversations touch us, and change us, not only for an earthly lifetime but for all eternity. Nicodemus was no longer a secret Disciple of Jesus! Along with Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus looked after and tended to Jesus’ body, anointing Him with spices for His burial.
There are no more Biblical references to Nicodemus but tradition says that after declaring himself to be a Disciple of Jesus and being baptised by the Apostle Peter, he was removed from office and expelled from Jerusalem. It is said that his daughter gathered barley from underneath horses’ feet because Nicodemus became poor.
Jesus gave a parable about a Pearl (Matthew 13:45 – 46) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” That’s Nicodemus’ example to us. It’ll be good to catch up with him, to find him in amongst the great cloud of witnesses – I suspect that I won’t be alone – so, I may need to come to him at night, do you think?!