One of the most informative encounters with Jesus for us today, is the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. It has given us a clear understanding of (1) what it means to be a Christian, and (2) God’s care and provision for the world and its people.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him. – John 3:1, 2
Nicodemus was an influential leader of the Jews (both a Pharisee and a member of their ruling council). He was an honest inquirer, he saw the miracles Jesus performed as evidence of his authority from God, and he wanted to know more. We assume he came to Jesus at night to avoid the attention of his peers. Jesus didn’t waste time or words. Some things cannot be grasped from the outside. Only those who have stepped inside the kingdom of God by faith can begin to understand its mysteries.
Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (v. 3) Nicodemus was just as surprised as we would be, hearing the expression ‘born again’ for the first time. What does it mean? How is this possible? “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” v. 6, 7
God’s kingdom is spiritual; only those who are alive spiritually may enter it; hence the need for this ‘second birth’, bringing us to life spiritually. This is how our lives as Christians begin.
It’s in the context of this encounter we’re given perhaps the best-known verse in our Bibles, containing the heart of the gospel. (We’re not really sure if Jesus spoke these words to Nicodemus, or if they are John’s God-given commentary on this encounter): For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
This is the answer to Nicodemus’ enquiry and to the needs of our world today. NB: How did Nicodemus respond to his encounter with Jesus that night? John doesn’t tell us in this chapter, but he notes the following, on the day Jesus was crucified: Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.” John 19:38, 39 We can be confident Nicodemus was ‘born again’; if not that night, then sometime after his life-changing encounter with Jesus.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for including this life-changing encounter in your Word, revealing to us your love for the world you created, teaching us how we may be restored in our relationship with you. Thank you for the new life you create within us by your Spirit, when we come to you by faith in Jesus and his sacrifice on our behalf. We long to see others enter this life and your kingdom. Show us how to bring others to an encounter with Jesus, We ask in his Name. Amen
SONG: Nearer, Still Nearer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCF2D98szaU