Jesus and Nicodemus: Situation, Discussion, and Recognition.

John introduces the reader to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, in John 3:1-2. The name Nicodemus is a common, proper Greek name in history, and during the time of Jesus, it was also a common, popular Jewish name. The Pharisees were a sect of the Sanhedrin, the highest-ranking Jewish school of the time.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by darkness (John 9:4; 11:10; 13:30) in unbelief and with the authority of those who were Doctors of Mosaic Law. Nicodemus recognized intellectually that Jesus came from God, but this is not the same as recognizing with the heart that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus as He knows the heart of every man. He knows the state of our souls before we come to know Him. In John 3, Nicodemus, a master law-keeper, stood before Jesus condemned but with opportunity to believe.

Jesus challenges Nicodemus’s excuses (John 3:4, 9) even as He knew what was in the man’s heart. Jesus references Daniel 7 and Numbers 21, challenging Nicodemus’s intellect (John 3:13-15).

Salvation is of the Lord completely. It is the Spirit of God who persuades a heart to believe.

John later records how the Spirit of God is at work in Nicodemus who wanted to give Jesus an opportunity to defend who He is and His work (John 7:40-53), and the reader sees how Nicodemus followed Jesus to the grave (John 19:31-42). Nicodemus went from a questioner to a defender of the law for the safety of Jesus, and finally, to a believer, a born-again man. From church history, it is known that Nicodemus became an integral part of the New Testament local church after Christ’s ascension.

Application Points

  • Do you only know Jesus with your intellect, or have you been born again with a surrendered heart transformed by His saving grace?
  • Has your faith in Christ given birth to a changed way of living?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Ezekiel 36:22-38; 37:1-10; John 3:3, 6, 8; 1 Peter 1:3, 23 – Born Again
A Quote to Ponder

Sinclair Ferguson said, “The pulse-beat of God’s heart has an evangelistic rhythm.”

A Hymn to Encourage: "I Know Whom I Have Believed"

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”