Scriptures

16. Nicodemus, Quite A Character

Introduction

By John Massey

Early in Jesus’ ministry He was already having a huge impact on people’s lives…including a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus decided he wanted to meet Jesus and ask Him some questions. And Jesus never declined an opportunity to teach.

Questions for Discussion

1. Read the following

‘Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 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.’ Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ ‘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!’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ ‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.’ John 3:1-21

a. Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus at night? Could the two men’s different backgrounds be a factor?

b. Jesus immediately began teaching a man who was an expert in the Law. How do you think Nicodemus reacted to the things Jesus told him?

c. The idea of being ‘born again’ was confusing to Nicodemus. Why was it difficult for him to distinguish between a physical and spiritual rebirth?

d. Verse 16 is one of the most famous summaries of the Gospel in all of Scripture. Do you think Nicodemus understood that God loved everyone not just the Jews?

2. Fast forward two years and read the following.

‘Finally, the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’ ‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards replied. ‘You mean he has deceived you also?’ the Pharisees retorted. ‘Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.’ Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, ‘Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?’ They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.’ John 7:45-52

a. The Pharisees already wanted to kill Jesus. But Nicodemus seemed to come to His defence. Why do you think he spoke up? Could he have said more?

b. Was Nicodemus at this point convinced that Jesus was the Christ? Discuss.

3. Now read the following

‘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. 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. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 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. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.’ John 19:38-42

a. Jesus was crucified, and Nicodemus was honouring Him at the burial site. Do you think Jesus impacted the life of Nicodemus? Discuss.

b. What lessons can we draw from the story of Nicodemus?

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’. John 3:16-17 NIV

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"

Matthew 22:37

MENU