Summary: A study of the visit of Nicodemus at night
2nd lent 11
The first episode of Nick at Night
John 3: 1-17
We have all heard jokes about people showing up at the pearly gates seeking entrance into Heaven. While many of these jokes bring a smile to our faces, behind most of them is the false assumption that we must do something to get into Heaven. It is shocking to people to hear that they can’t do anything to earn entrance into Heaven. Grace goes beyond human comprehension. By our nature, we want to merit God’s favor. The scandal of grace challenges our normal way of thinking.
In our text today, we come across one of those persons who had a difficult time understanding the truth of free grace salvation. His name was Nicodemus, and as we move through our text, we will discover that Nicodemus was a very religious man who had a hard time realizing the difference between religion and relationship.
It was at night that this ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus, decided to pay the teacher Jesus a visit. There has been a lot of speculation as to why he came at night.
- rabbis studied at night
- to avoid the crowd
- so their conversation would not be limited
- b/c he feared being seen with Jesus because the Gospels mention that he, along with Joseph of Arimathea were secretly disciples.
When you read the Gospel of John you must realize that it is the most spiritual of the 4 Gospels and uses imagery to make a point. In John’s gospel, darkness opposes light. Perhaps the mention of the fact it was night symbolizes the darkness that shrouded Nicodemus’ heart and soul. You might call this encounter the first “Nick at Night.” But for whatever reason, Nicodemus comes at night in hopes that this miracle worker can answer some of his spiritual questions. He was a seeker.
Now, it must be said up front that Nicodemus was no ordinary citizen. He was rich. He was respected. He was religious (Pharisee, 1 of 70, gave his life to studying and obeying the Law and traditions). He was a ruler of the Jews.
In today’s scripture we’re going to discover three steps you can take to start your life over. The first step is…. Start your life over by having your own private talk with Jesus. I want you to notice that Nicodemus was a man of distinction and outstanding character. He was intelligent, honest and upright. John in his gospel tells us: “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him" (3:1-2).
No doubt, Nicodemus, who was a member the Sanhedrin, had heard about Jesus. Perhaps he came at night so he could have a private meeting with Jesus and ask all the questions he wanted to ask. He was a religious man. We know that he took his religion seriously because he was a member of the Pharisees sect. They were strict, narrow, traditionalists. John says he was “a ruler of the Jews." In other words he was one who is first or preeminent among his associates. He stood in a high position among the ruling class in Jerusalem. This would indicate that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. We also know that Nicodemus was a man of discernment is seen in his estimation of Jesus. “We know that You have come from God as a teacher."