The story of Jesus teaching Nicodemus contains the most famous Bible verse of them all, John 3:16. Let's look at this person named Nicodemus who approached Jesus at night to speak with him.
- Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council, so he was a very important person in Israel at the time.
- He came to Jesus at night (some might say this was the first Nic at Night…), probably because he was aware that the other Jewish leaders weren't happy with the things Jesus was teaching and the fact that Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God.
- Notice when he approaches Jesus, though, he starts with a much lesser claim, “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God” (John 3:2)
- Then he and Jesus have this back and forth teaching opportunity. Well, it is mostly Jesus talking and Nicodemus listening.
- We don't know how Nicodemus responded to what Jesus was teaching, but we do have a record of 2 other times in the book of John where he was mentioned.
- In John 7:45-53, he stepped in and tried to calm down the Jewish leaders who were beginning to step up their attacks on Jesus. He doesn't directly confess faith in Jesus as the Son of God here, but he asks a question that at least makes the other Jewish leaders question his loyalty.
- In John 19:39, we see that he helps Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus' body after he was crucified. He does not speak in this record of his actions, but if he was willing to prepare Jesus' body for burial, this is a strong indication that his faith had grown from that first encounter.
Now, let's look at what Jesus actually taught Nicodemus that night.
- You must be born again if you want to enter God's Kingdom (3:3): this totally confused Nicodemus. Before this talk with Jesus, the thought of someone being born twice was just crazy talk. But Jesus was giving Nicodemus an incredible truth here: there is physical birth and there is spiritual birth.
- God sent Jesus to earth to save anyone who believes in him (3:15-16): faith in Jesus is what gives us eternal life. This is the second birth.
- When we believe in Jesus, the light turns on and we can know what is true and do what is good (3:19-21): Doing what is good is a result of being born again, not what makes us born again. Only faith in Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins will make us right with God.