Nov. 20,2007; The Series - Jesus, Unique & Unequaled Teacher

Focus Text: John 3.1-2

It wasn’t easy being a disciple of Christ. Some who followed at the first saw the sacrifices that were involved as well as the dangers and turned their backs. Jesus didn’t blink; His terms of discipleship were non-negotiable! The extraordinary drawing power of Jesus as a man and as a Teacher is reflected in the way some of His disciples reacted to His life and His death. We will talk about one of the more prominent followers of Jesus, and this in spite of the cost.

We first meet Nicodemus as he was introduced in John’s gospel account: “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’” (John 3.1-2). Sometimes men came to Jesus with such platitudes, but they were vain and empty words, words of mockery and deceit. There is not a scintilla of evidence that the word’s of Nicodemus were anything but genuine; in fact, all the evidence points to his sincerity in addressing Jesus as “Rabbi,” and confessing the truth that He was a teacher come from God.

Before passing over these verses lightly, consider the position that Nicodemus enjoyed among the Pharisees; John states that he was “a ruler of the Jews.” It is unwise to speculate the exact political or religious stature of the man, but it is obvious that he was of considerable influence among his Jewish friends; many commentators affirm that he was a member of the Sanhedrin, their equivalent to our high courts. Consider the fact that Nicodemus witnessed at least some of the miraculous deeds (signs) performed at Jesus’ hand and drew a valid conclusion. Specifically, he said, “[N]o one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” From his recognition of this implication, we can safely conclude that Nicodemus was a man of reason and conviction. It was one thing to recognize the truthfulness of what Nicodemus said, and quite another thing to act upon that knowledge. Nicodemus, as we shall see, was a man of works and not faith alone.

On another occasion when Jesus was under fire from the Pharisees, “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’ They answered and said to him, ‘Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.’” (John 7.50-52). The first meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus seemed to be in a relatively private setting; the second recorded meeting (John 7) was obviously of a much more public nature. Where once Nicodemus had privately affirmed Jesus’ origins, he now spoke out publicly and defended Him against the unscrupulous designs of the other Jewish leaders?

To be a follower or devotee of Jesus, one has to be ready to give up everything in that pursuit. That is what was required of the inner circle (Peter, James, and John) and that is what is required of any and all who would follow Him now. Jesus seeks no “fair weather” friends, but demands total commitment. As believers, we have awesome responsibilities but we labor under the banner of undying love! With that banner over us, we can be fearless, confident in Him and His truth.

Questions:

1. Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus by night? Are you sure? Why might he have come to Jesus by night?

2. What danger was Nicodemus in when He defended Jesus in John 7?

3. What truth did Nicodemus learn about Jesus from the signs that He performed?

4. How do you know that Jesus did not want “fair weather” friends? Cite the evidence that the Bible contains to support that position.