“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night”. -John 3:1
Through the streets of Jerusalem, Nicodemus moved silently in the shadows. The only sound was his expensive robe rustling about his calves. With each step his heart pounded as fear rose into his throat. “What if someone recognizes me?”. The other Pharisees hated and mocked Jesus, and they would disgrace Nicodemus if they had found him in Jesus presence. But he could not help it, Nicodemus had seen the miracles and heard Jesus speak, his curiosity was overwhelming. Nicodemus was willing to risk his reputation just to find the answers to all the questions that had been rushing through his mind.
As a Pharisee Nicodemus was a revered leader among the Jews. He had dedicated his life to preserve and protect the Old Testament laws and the ways of the Pharisees. Striving to have God’s approval Nicodemus lived a life filled with outward conformity. He believed his relationship with God was based on what Nicodemus wore, how he prayed, the amount he tithed, how he acted, how well he quoted the Old Testament law, how many steps he took on the Sabbath, what he ate and with whom he ate. “But what if Jesus was right, and there was something more?”
When Nicodemus quietly approached Jesus, the twilight had past, and the darkness was lit only by the stars. “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.” Nicodemus who had spent his whole life memorizing the prophecies of the Old Testament, knew the promises but failed to recognize the One sent to fulfill those prophecies.
Instead of answering Nicodemus question Jesus makes a statement to stir and challenge the Pharisees thinking. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “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? 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” How these words must have shaken a man whose life was built on external conformity rather than spiritual transformation. “Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?”
There in the quiet of the night, Jesus gives Nicodemus a glimpse of the Salvation that was to come. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
A friend once compared a Pharisee to a gardener who lays out plans for a rich and luxurious garden. By the sweat of his brow he plows and breaks the soil into rows. Then with blistered hands he hoes and and removes the stones. When his labor is done, the gardener stands back with pride looking across his beautifully prepared fields. The problem is while he has done all the work, he forgot the seed, and a garden without seed has no purpose.
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” Into the soil of Nicodemus heart Jesus places the seed of the gospel. Nicodemus, a relationship with God isn’t about what you do, it’s about what Jesus will do on the cross. It isn’t about all you know concerning God, it’s about whether you know Jesus as the Son of God, your Redeemer, and Savior. As The Light shines on the seed, The Living Water flows into the soil, and faith grows.
*What did Nicodemus decide? Did he return to his life as a pharisee? Did he trust Jesus as the Son of God?
Do a little digging to find the answer: Read John 7:50-52 and John 19:38-42