Read John 3
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 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.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “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!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 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.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 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. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 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. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 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 Testifies Again About Jesus
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
Nicodemus is not the type of guy we would picture running toward Jesus. As a religious leader of high status, he was all about order and rules and image. He and his fellow Pharisees were offended by Jesus and the message He was preaching. Yet, Nicodemus desired to know more about Jesus. He ran to Him in the cover of the night, risking his credibility and the respect of his peers, because he saw there was more to learn and value in spending time with Him. In his time with Jesus, he did not understand all Jesus was telling him, but he was not afraid to ask questions when he was confused or doubting.
We can be inspired by Nicodemus’ example. Even though being with Jesus was unfavorable in the eyes of his peers, Nicodemus still sought Him. We may be facing backlash for spending time with Jesus, but are we letting that stop us from being with Him? Despite Nicodemus not understanding what Jesus was teaching, we see Jesus come alongside him to help him. Nicodemus did not give up when he didn’t understand, but he further leaned in. We may have seasons where we are doubting or confused by Jesus’ plan for our lives, but we can lean in to Him, still seek His light while we are surrounded by darkness, and know that He is alongside us.
Darkness is not something new to God. He knows it exists, and He sent a way for us to escape it. He sent His son, Jesus, as redemption. The Light of the World was sent to save us, not condemn us for our mistakes. When we follow Jesus, He welcomes us with open arms.
Many have heard verse 16, which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” What a beautiful message of love, hope, and kindness. But, in honest reflection, do we know what Jesus said while He was here? Do we rejoice in His message? Do we share it with those around us? If we truly believe, let us focus on the Light of the World rather than the present darkness, and let us not be afraid of sharing His hope with the world, one conversation at a time.
- In what ways has focusing on the Light helped you make it through seasons of darkness?
- What do you risk to spend time with Jesus?
- How can you seek Jesus in seasons of confusion and doubt?
Did You Know?
The Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council Nicodemus was a part of, only consisted of 70 members. To say that Nicodemus was one of the most influential people in town would not be an understatement.