Written by Paul J. Bucknell on March, 05, 2020
John 3:1-13 Encounters With Jesus
Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus reveals the need for everyone to meet Christ and start a spiritual conversation about their lives with God.
The Night Encounter
What we do in private is much different from what we would do in public. There are a lot of brave people at a big Billy Graham Crusade who dare walk down those aisles crammed with people onto the field. Perhaps we would do that too in the increase of excitement, but usually, we have a guarded heart. Nicodemus typified this approach.
One of the significant phrases in the passage helps reveal this guarded approach—Nicodemus “came by night.” They didn’t have the street lights back then. Perhaps, a few places had lanterns, but overall, it was lights out when the sun went down except for some meeting places.
Why Secretly Act When You Fear Nobody? (John 3:1-2)
“This man came to Him by night.”
Our most important decisions are the ones not many people know about at first. They are secretive because they potentially involve big, sometimes unwanted changes. The undisclosed choices are typically the ones we prepare in our hearts before telling others. People differently handle things, but this kind of person does not want to act like a fool.
Nicodemus was a very well-known rich man who snuck off and found Jesus by night. As a ruler of the Jews, he had to be careful how much he could afford people to talk about him doing this. But Nicodemus had to get some answers from that man from God. He heard Jesus in public and yet couldn’t let people on that he really would listen to an uneducated man!
It is hard to face our pride. Nicodemus somewhat faced his. It was his titles, positions, and riches, which made him a star. But he could see that he was more than those things. He could see his imperfections and inadequacies. Perhaps, he wasn’t the bravest coming by night, but he came nevertheless. He didn’t wait forever before deciding to make the crucial question. Some of us still have not held such spiritual conversations.
Why Start Over When You Are Successful? (John 3:3-10)
“Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus thought he had it all made. A Pharisee. A professional. Very rich. Born a Jew. Well known. Right family. What did Jesus mean when He asserted that Nicodemus had to start all over again by being born again? And when Jesus said he had to start over, it was from scratch—birth! But what did Jesus mean by being born again or born from above (an equally acceptable translation)?
Success has a whole lot of interpretations today. What are the popular views of success in today’s world? Which one do you hold to? When Jesus tells this respectful man about being born again, Nicodemus listened. He listened to what it meant to start over. He could understand his life might profit from Jesus’ words. We equally need to get a good handle on our lives. Jesus’ words were startling: “Sorry, but you have to start all over.” Nicodemus, with all the status and riches, was willing to move ahead to seek from Jesus’ words. What could we lose if we followed Christ? Is it worth it?
Why Learn When You Are The Master Teacher? (John 3:9-13)
“Are you the teacher ..., and do not understand these things?”
Jesus didn’t have any so-called education, nor did He have any money. But He knew God.
And when a good teacher finds another good teacher, even a bit better than he, there is nothing that is going to stop him from gaining an exchange of knowledge and opinion. Notice how Nicodemus addresses Jesus as, “You have come from God as a teacher.” Nicodemus’ explanation is a bit more subtle and points to the signs that Jesus had performed.
Jesus isn’t distracted by the focus on the signs. He gets at what Nicodemus is looking for, that is, real life answers. Most people talk around issues rather than facing them—largely because they don’t have such answers or questions!
It isn’t very easy to fully appreciate class societies or ones that make great distinctions between those who have and those who do not, those who have connections, and those who do not.
For Nicodemus, Jesus was incongruent. The miracles were astounding, but he was willing to humble his heart and listen to Jesus. Nicodemus crossed some of those man-made hurdles to meet Jesus. And because of this, he received some teaching, which made him a master teacher.
Are we willing to come out of our public lives and meet Jesus quietly? Are we ready to see the experiences, the reputation, the earnings, or is our shame defining us? Can we start over in the right way? Nicodemus did.
Are we willing to accept that our teachings, knowledge, and common sense could have a missing gap so that we are willing to learn from Jesus Christ?
These are the things that made Nicodemus a great man. His greatness came not from his riches, fame, nor his big titles, but that he sincerely came and listened to what Jesus, the author of life, said to him one night. He gambled with his life but found eternal life. He found and believed upon Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord (John 7:50, 19:39).
48 No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he? 49 But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” (John 7:48-51)
38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. (John 19:38-39)