The Apostle John, wrote multiple times about a man named Nicodemus.
Who is this Nicodemus in the Bible? What was the relationship between Nicodemus and Jesus? What can we learn from the stories of Nicodemus?
Here’s just some of what he has to teach us.
Nicodemus was known as a “leader among the Jews,” which means he was probably a member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the high priests' political council.
This council was the highest legislative body in Jewish Palestine.
Think of it as a supreme judicial court reserved for only the most important cases.
In other words, Nicodemus enjoyed a fair amount of power and influence in his community.
And yet, despite that power and influence, the Bible tells us that he still felt the need to seek out Jesus and would cross paths with Christ more than once throughout both of their lives.
The first time Nicodemus meets Jesus is recorded in the third chapter of John,
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
(John 3 as found in the KJV)
How amazing is it that the works of Jesus, a man born into humble circumstances, would reach the eyes of some of the most powerful men alive at the time? Some interpret John’s recording of this nighttime meeting as Nicodemus’ attempt to meet Jesus in secret, without others knowing. But the fact that he sought out Jesus possibly risking everything or nothing still speaks volumes of his willingness to learn from the Savior.
The next time Nicodemus makes an appearance in the book of John is in Chapter 7.
Jesus is teaching the Gospel to his kinsmen. Some believed. Some didn’t. And their disagreements regarding Jesus’s teachings cause plenty of contention and argument among them.
And then Nicodemus comes to publicly defend Jesus.
43 So there was a division among the people because of him.
44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
53 And every man went unto his own house.
(John 7 as found in the KJV)
As John said, the Pharisees debated what to do with Jesus' teaching. While doing so, they asked if any leaders among them believed in his word.
And that’s when Nicodemus stepped in to make sure no one hurt Jesus.
Nicodemus, a leader of the ruling class, a man who may have first met Jesus in secret, came out and publicly protected and defended Jesus against those very peers.
The third time we see Nicodemus, is after the death of Jesus in John chapter 19.
38 And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
(John 19 as found in the KJV)
After Jesus was crucified and killed, many worried that being associated with him would be even more dangerous. But Nicodemus didn’t care. He still came to help clothe and care for the body of Jesus in spite of the pressure he may have felt.
So what can we learn from the story of Nicodemus?
We can learn that it doesn’t matter who you are or how you first heard of Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you first seek him in the dark of night or in the bright of day.
Those who seek Jesus will find him.
Those who find Jesus will feel the miracle of his love.
And those who feel his love will not be ashamed to stand with Jesus and for Jesus.