Often overlooked in Jesus’ profound message recorded in John 3 is the significance of whom Jesus was speaking to.
Some of Jesus’ most memorable words were spoken to Nicodemus.
“You must be born again.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
What significance would this encounter play in the movement Jesus started?
What do we know about this man?
1. Nicodemus saw the miraculous signs Jesus was performing in Jerusalem during Passover and believed Jesus was from God.
2. Nicodemus knew that something was lacking in his own pursuit of God.
3. Nicodemus took the initiative to seek out Jesus at great personal risk to his reputation and social standing.
4. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, their version of the Supreme Court. 23 judges were appointed to Jerusalem’s ruling council, so this was an honor of great distinction.
5. Nicodemus stands up to the other Jewish leaders in defense of Jesus (John 7).
6. Nicodemus, breaking with the ranks of his fellow Jewish leaders who had called for Jesus to be crucified, asked for Jesus’ body to give Him a proper burial.
7. Nicodemus, like many of Jesus’ initial disciples, was martyred some time in the first century.
It seems clear that Nicodemus did respond to Jesus’ message and placed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
If John 3 represents that turning point in Nicodemus’ faith, what impact did this conversion have on the movement? This event would happen in the first 6 months of Jesus’ ministry and thus prove foundational for what would follow.
Maybe the faith of a brilliant expert in the Law and prominent religious leader would strengthen the faith of Jesus’ disciples. Wouldn’t Nicodemus’ acceptance of Jesus lend credibility to the movement? Jesus’ miracles should have been proof enough, but for some, they weren’t.
The encounter with Nicodemus and Jesus’ message for him would also crystallize the Gospel for the disciples. I’m sure they thought, “If anyone has known enough and done enough to be accepted by God, it would certainly be Nicodemus! A member of the Jewish ruling council. He knows his stuff. A Pharisee. He is righteous in every way we could imagine.” Yet even Nicodemus was found spiritually lacking. Even Nicodemus “must be born again!”
The gospel is a gospel of grace. All men, great and small, are equal at the foot of the cross. This gospel of grace gripped Nicodemus at his core.
Nicodemus. Christ-follower. Culture-shaper. Faith-defender. Christian Martyr.
To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit: SONLIFE.COM