Summary: Nicodemas has a heart to heart conversation with Jesus who pulls no punches.
The Bible has never been so accessible to the entire world. L. Ron Hubbard’s writings of scientology have been translated into 65 languages and the Book of Mormon is in about 100 languages but 2,656 languages have all or some of the Bible. 65 million copies of the Bible are brought or distributed in the United States every year--nothing else is a close second.
The average house has at least three Bibles because people get them for gifts or buy them for display purposes. People cheer the Bible, buy the Bible, give the Bible and own the Bible. They just don’t read the Bible.
So, here is one of the key passages in the New Testament and it’s found in the fourth gospel, in the gospel of John. John is a great book and chapter 3 is one of its highlights. This is the one thousandth chapter in the bible and verse 16 is probably the most famous verse but we’ll begin with the first seven verses.
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
In chapter 20:31 we’re told, “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” And in chapter three we have the account of how one man went to find out more about Jesus but found out more than he wanted to know about himself.
His name was Nicodemas and according to the scripture he was very wealthy because he and Joseph of Arimathea were the two who had prepared Jesus body for burial then placed Him in Joseph’s unused burial cave. He was also obviously a very educated man because Jesus actually referred to him as the teacher of Israel. And he also held a seat on the Sanhedrin which was the religious governing council that ruled over Israel.
So, he was someone who had what most people wanted. He had lots of money, the respect of all the people and intellectual credibility and when Nicodemas spoke; people listened. But in spite of everything he had he seemed to sense there was something missing and so, he came to have a little talk with Jesus.
Now, we’re told three things about Nicodemas and the first is; he was a member of the Pharisees and the Pharisees were known as the separated ones. They dressed in black and tried to live their lives according to the 613 laws of the Old Testament and not only did they try to keep every rule but they made up others as they went along.
And the people of Israel looked to men like Nicodemas for spiritual leadership because of his commitment to the temple and his knowledge of the law.
He was also a member of the Sanhedrin which was the name given to the seventy men who served on the Jewish council and they ruled in both civil as well as religious matters. These were both powerful and respected men.
And then we also see where Jesus called him “the teacher of Israel” and some suggest that Nicodemas was a popular religious speaker at the temple.
So, he was prosperous, popular and powerful and the scripture says “he came to Jesus by night.” And we wonder why? It might have been because he was afraid people might criticize him for talking to Jesus who had been labeled as a heretic. Then again, the rabbi’s taught that the best time to study the scripture was at night and since Jesus was surrounded by crowds during the day maybe Nicodemas thought he could have some private and undisturbed time with Jesus. Or maybe he wanted to investigate who Jesus was before making any kind of public declaration as to whether he was for Him or against Him.
But we might also wonder why he came at all? Was there a personal need? Was there something missing in his life or did he suspect that Jesus was the coming one he had been teaching about?