TOWARDS EASTER 2001: JESUS AND NICODEMUS
This morning I want us to meet a man and get to know him a little better than we might have before. His name is Nicodemus. There is a lot we don’t know about this man, but I think we can learn a lot about him and about Jesus from their interaction.
READ JOHN 3:1-21
I. WHO WAS HE?
We learn several things about this man Nicodemus from John chapter 3. He is a Pharisee, which means that he was an influential man in religious circles in Jesus’ time. He was also a member of the Jewish ruling council, called the Sanhedrin. He was an influential man. He probably had some wealth as well, so he was not poor. People looked up to him. His neighbors idolized him. Nicodemus was an influential and powerful man who came to Jesus to ask him a question.
II. WHY DID HE COME?
In spite of all his influence and somewhat high status, he came to Jesus at night. Why? Why did this leader of the Jews come to Jesus? Why did he come at night?
1) Was he curious about some teaching of Jesus?
2) Bothered by what Jesus had taught and wanted some clarification?
3) Was he angry and wanted to convince Jesus to shut-up?
We don’t know exactly, but he probably came at night because he didn’t want to be seen with Jesus. He was afraid of what others may say about him. He couldn’t be seen talking with this carpenter from Nazareth! Something did indeed bring him to Jesus. I think Nicodemus had questions that he wanted answered. I think something Jesus said sparked his interest. I think Nicodemus couldn’t sleep because he kept rolling his questions around in his head. He just had to go and ask Jesus.
ILLUSTRATION… Brett Blair 1999
The Chevy Nova was a relatively successful American car for many years. Encouraged by U.S. sales, Chevrolet began to market the American Nova throughout the world. Unfortunately, the Nova did not sell well in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Additional ads were ordered, marketing efforts were stepped up, but sales remained stagnant. Sales directors were baffled. The car had sold well in the American market; why wasn’t it selling now? When they discovered the answer, it was rather embarrassing: In Spanish, Nova means “no go” (James Emery White, Rethinking The Church, Baker, 1998, p. 38.). No one had bothered to ask questions or do research.
This is the problem Nicodemus is having. Nicodemus knows only one language and that is the language of earth. He doesn’t understand what Jesus is talking about. “Born again?” His earthly language was getting in the way of the Heavenly meaning. Nicodemus is confused. He doesn’t understand. To him, Jesus is speaking another language. He has question after question. Nicodemus wants to understand. He wants to put his questions to rest so he can move on.
I think as we look closer and closer at Nicodemus, we will find a man searching and asking questions and looking for meaning. He comes to the right place, he comes to ask Jesus.
III. WHAT DID HE LEARN?
We read of Nicodemus only a few more times in Scripture and I think the most significant time is in John 19:38-42. We find a different man than we did at the beginning of the book of John. He was there after Jesus died, perhaps he had been there the whole time—we aren’t told. Joseph of Arimathea is the man that we usually think of as the one who took Jesus down from the cross and took care of his body, but there was another individual with him. It was Nicodemus!