Can You Relate to This Man?

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. John 3:1

“Ruler of the Jews” means that Nicodemus had risen to the top of his profession. He was a Pharisee. There were undoubtedly some arrogant, hypocritical Pharisees, but Paul includes “Pharisee” in his list of credentials (Phil. 3:5), because in the first century, this was about as admirable as you could get.

On top of all that, Nicodemus says, “We know that you are a teacher come from God” (3:2). He seems to be saying, “A number of us, even among the Pharisees, are drawn to what you are saying and doing. We are interested in learning more.”

Then Nicodemus asks, “How can a man be born when he is old?” (3:4). He is speaking about himself, so we can assume he was a mature person with an established career (likely in his 40s or 50s).

Nicodemus is hard working, fair and honest. He is highly successful and he has conservative values. He is a God-honoring, Bible-believing, law-abiding, mature, respected, well-educated person. And he is drawn to Jesus Christ.

If this does not describe you, it is probably what you want to be. You would like to be known as a successful person of impeccable character—reliable, hardworking, trusted and admired. So whatever Jesus says to this man, it is important for all of us.

Notice Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night” (3:2) when the crowds had gone. There was a caution about him. He has questions, and he wants to explore them in a thoughtful and private way. Picture these two men—a Pharisee and the Son of God—sitting at a table with an oil lamp burning late into the night.

Can you relate to Nicodemus? How?

Colin Smith (@PastorColinS) is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

Date Posted: Feb 13th, 2018