READ JOHN 3:1-21
The Sanhedrin was the ruling body of the Jews. This group acted as a lower court. Nicodemus was a member of this select organization who was considering doing something to stop Jesus and His “new” ministry among the people. Many consider this meeting as being held in secret, because Nicodemus didn’t want to have it known that he was interested in this man and His teachings – sort of a clandestine encounter under the cover of darkness. Yet Nicodemus, being part of the group that wanted to put Jesus to death, also felt that He should have a chance to speak on His own behalf.
Whatever his motivation, there are times in our own lives, when we want to keep our Christianity to ourselves. Jesus was a threat to the Jewish leadership. He was claiming to be the Son of God, doing miraculous things, speaking the Scriptures with great authority and becoming angry with the self-righteousness of the church leaders. Nicodemus was part of this group of accusers, but he felt Jesus needed a fair trial before he was sentenced. He met Him in secret one night, not only learn to His intentions, but to assimilate what He was teaching to the masses.
He had no idea what he was about to learn. Jesus spoke about being born again – a term that is used loosely by some today. Nicodemus didn’t understand the process. ““How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus was referring to being born through God’s Holy Spirit – having faith placed within us so that we can believe. This is an act that only God can accomplish within us. We can choose to accept or deny, but the Holy Spirit is doing the work.
Faith is the key word here. Jesus talks about not believing things that can’t be seen or proven. Faith is believing without seeing – allowing the Spirit to work in our hearts and minds – accepting without question.
Nicodemus became a follower of Christ. He was at the trial, the administration of torture and the crucifixion. He and the rich, Joseph of Arimathea (another member of the council) carried the dead, crushed, bruised body of Jesus to a new tomb.
So many of Jesus’ followers fled when push came to shove. Those who were His diligent followers fled in fear when the soldiers came to make the arrest. One denied knowing Jesus. Others stayed in hiding for a while. One betrayed Him. If we were placed in a similar situation, would we be able to stay strong in our convictions? I don’t know what I’d do. I certainly wouldn’t want to go through the persecution of a martyr, but if placed in that position, I wonder how God would arm me for the battle. Only He can do so through the power of His Word and Spirit.