John 3:1-4 New International Version
1 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.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
The story of Nicodemus is found only in the Gospel of John. You will find the accounts of Nicodemus in John, Chapters 3, 7 and 19.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the ruling council. As we know from studying the New Testament, the Pharisees and ruling Sanhedrin council wanted to rid themselves of Jesus and eventually planned on killing Him.
Jesus was very critical of the Pharisees and you can read his scathing words in Matthew, Chapter 23.
Nevertheless, Nicodemus was definitely interested in Jesus and His teachings. In fact, he was so interested that he dared go to see Jesus, albeit at night. In John 3:1-21 you will find the account of this secret meeting with Jesus. Under the cover of darkness, Nicodemus meets Jesus and calling Him “Rabbi.” Nicodemus tells Jesus that he knows He is a teacher coming from God, for no one could do the miracles being done if not from God.
We find Nicodemus again in John 7:50-51 where he reminds his fellow members of the Sanhedrin Council that they are required to listen to one being judged, to hear their side of the story, before condemning them. Nicodemus urged the council to hear and investigate before condemning a man to death. However, he was told that a “prophet does not come from Galilee.
John 7:46-52 New International Version
46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”
50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
We last see Nicodemus in John 19:38-42 where he accompanies Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the body of Jesus for burial.
John 19:38-42 New International Version
The Burial of Jesus
38 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.[a] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Nicodemus is an interesting Bible study. He obviously believed in Jesus and knew that He was the Son of God. However, he knew he must be careful, as to be a follower of Jesus would be dangerous for a man in his position. Hence, the meeting at night.
It is clear from John’s accounting of this meeting that Nicodemus believed, but was confused as to the words which Jesus used. “How can a man be born again, when they are old?”, he asked Jesus.
Nicodemus believed Jesus and wanted to learn more. He was willing to take chances to learn and defend Jesus. His final act was to assist in preparing the body of Jesus for a royal burial.
As you study Nicodemus in the verses noted above, think about what lessons we can learn from him.