Meet Nicodemus: Seeker of God

This prominent Pharisee recognized Jesus as King

Jesus and Nicodemus
Jesus and Nicodemus by James Tissot.

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Every seeker has a deep feeling that there must be something more to life, a great truth to be discovered. That was the case with Nicodemus, the Sanhedrin member who secretly visited Jesus Christ at night because he suspected this young teacher might be the Messiah promised to Israel by God.

Key Verses From the Bible Story of Nicodemus

  • Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3, NIV)
  • "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!" (John 3:4, NIV)
  • 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)

Who Was Nicodemus?

Nicodemus first appears in the Bible in John 3, when he sought out Jesus by night. That evening Nicodemus learned from Jesus that he must be born again, and he was.

Then, about six months before the crucifixion, the Chief Priests and Pharisees attempted to have Jesus arrested for deception. Nicodemus protested, urging the group to give Jesus a fair hearing.

Nicodemus last appears in the Bible after the death of Jesus. Together with his friend and fellow Sanhedrin member, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus lovingly cared for the body of the crucified Savior, placing the Lord's remains in Joseph's tomb.

Nicodemus is a model of faith and courage for all Christians to follow.

Nicodemus' Accomplishments

Jesus identifies Nicodemus as a prominent Pharisee and a leader of the Jewish people. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, the high court in Israel.

Nicodemus, whose name means "innocent of blood," stood up for Jesus when the Pharisees were conspiring against him:

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?" (John 7:50-51, NIV)

He helped Joseph of Arimathea take Jesus' body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb, at great risk to his safety and reputation.

Nicodemus, a man of great wealth, donated 75 pounds of expensive myrrh and aloes to anoint the Lord's body after Jesus died. This amount of spice was enough to fittingly bury royalty, signaling that Nicodemus had recognized Jesus as King.

Nicodemus' Strengths

Nicodemus had a wise, inquiring mind. He was not satisfied with the legalism of the Pharisees. He grew disturbed and confused by the words that Jesus was preaching and needed to clarify certain truths that applied to his life and circumstances. And so he summoned great courage to seek out Jesus and ask questions. He wanted to get the truth directly from the Lord's mouth.

He also defied the Sanhedrin and Pharisees by treating Jesus' body with dignity and assuring that he received a proper burial.

Nicodemus' Weakness

When he first sought out Jesus, Nicodemus went at night, so no one would see him. He was afraid of what might happen if he spoke to Jesus in broad daylight, where people might report him.

Life Lessons

Nicodemus would not rest until he found the truth. He wanted badly to understand, and he sensed that Jesus had the answer. When Nicodemus found Jesus, the Lord recognized his pressing need. Jesus, the Living Word, ministered to Nicodemus, a hurting and confused individual, with great compassion and dignity. Jesus counseled Nicodemus personally and privately.

After Nicodemus had become a follower, his life was changed forever. He never hid his faith in Jesus again.

Jesus is the source of all truth, the meaning of life. When we are born again, as Nicodemus was, we should never forget that we have forgiveness of our sins and eternal life because of Christ's sacrifice for us.

References to Nicodemus in the Bible

The story of Nicodemus and his relationship with Jesus develops in three episodes of the Bible: John 3:1-21, John 7:50-52, and John 19:38-42.

Occupation

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court in ancient Israel.