The Holy Scriptures tell a story in the book of John about Nicodemus, who was a high-level leader of the Jewish people and a member of a conservative sect of Judaism called the Pharisees.
Nicodemus wanted a private meeting with Jesus to discuss the theological implications of the miracles He was performing, and to find out about Jesus’s intentions for public ministry. He was convinced Jesus was a great teacher with supernatural power, but he wanted to know if Jesus was the Messiah who would lead Israel to national greatness as God’s people.
Nicodemus was granted a private meeting with Jesus during the dark hours of the night which reveals spiritual insight about our savior who is available night or day to hear our prayers and grant us divine wisdom. As a religious leader, Nicodemus understood the sensitive nature of the political environment and did not want to cause problems by forcing Jesus to answer questions in public. However, he wanted to give Jesus an opportunity to clear up confusion about claims that He was the long awaited Messiah.
Jesus sat down with Nicodemus and allowed him to begin the conversation. Nicodemus began by admitting Jesus was a teacher sent by God, but I can almost hear Jesus cutting him off before he had a chance to ask the REAL question. Jesus interrupted and said, “There is no way for you to understand the Kingdom of God unless the Holy Spirit of God gives you a new way of looking at things. You need to be born again and submit yourself to being recreated.”
Nicodemus had studied the Torah his entire life, and believed he had a solid grasp on the meaning of the scriptures. Now Jesus was telling him he was missing the point. Not only was Jesus a good teacher who performed miracles by divine power, Jesus was that divine power. His primary mission from God was to deliver people from spiritual bondage and to grant them eternal life.
I can imagine the disappointed look on Nicodemus’s face. He was not ready to hear what Jesus was saying. The Messiah was supposed to be a political ruler who would deliver Israel from physical bondage to other nations and make Israel a world power. Jesus did not deny that He was the Messiah, but He had a completely different mission—freeing Israel from spiritual bondage.
Even though Nicodemus did not understand what Christ was saying, the savior used this meeting to reveal His true mission as the one and only God/Man prophesied in the writings of Moses. He was the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness that brought healing upon the Hebrews who looked upon it to avoid death. This prophetic symbol was a foreshadowing of the cross of Calvary.
The message that confused Nicodemus is abundantly clear to us in the most popular verse in the Bible (John 3:16):
1. God loves the world
2. God sent His only Son
3. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life
4. Those who reject the son will perish under divine condemnation
Here Jesus revealed to Nicodemus, and the rest of creation, the good news of the Gospel. God loves us and sent His son into the world to deliver all people from eternal death. The only condition for salvation is simple faith in the Son that God has sent to release those who trust Him from bondage to suffering and sin.
If you have not given your life to Jesus then I invite you to believe the one who will grant you the assurance of eternal life.
Only Jesus has the authority to offer eternal life. He is the divine Son of God who paid the penalty for your sins on the cross. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to the truth of God and accept the gift of salvation that will transform your life through the sacrificial blood of Christ shed on the cross of Calvary.
Good article. I think sometimes we don’t realize how pivotal this conversation was, even if we use John 3:16ff so freely. Thanks for the insights!