Chapter 5 - The Night Visitor
Helen Dowd

The Pharisees and Sadducees, the lawyers, and the scoffers among the crowd, daily sought for excuses to criticize Jesus and accuse Him. They sought for a way to get rid of Him.

Note: KJV and NKJV are used in these stories. Passages in blue italics are direct quotes from the Scriptures. Jesus' words are always direct quotes.

Historical setting:
About 27 A.D.
Place: Judea
Persons: Jesus and Nicodemus
Scripture: John 3

Jesus grabbed a handful of bamboo and twisted it into a whip. … The religious leaders were not impressed by Jesus' actions.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

The seventy-one Members of the Sanhedrin gathered in a semicircle on their carpets on the floor in their meeting room in the Temple. It was their job to decide the punishment of those who had broken the strict Jewish laws. But today they did not have their mind on judging the guilty. They were enraged at what had happened in the temple, just this morning.

"Who does He think He is? A virtual stranger coming in here and throwing His weight around. How dare He!"

So, instead of judging the guilty, they began to plot how to trip Jesus up and how to eventually bring Him before the courts to condemn Him. They were not having their authority usurped.

"And to think, He said He was the Messiah. Ha! The Messiah? No! When the Messiah comes He is going to set up His Kingdom and judge all these wicked people who have us under their thumbs—the Romans!"

And so the talk went on for the whole session. They could not get their minds on their business, and off the rage that the Temple incident had incurred.

But one of the members sat quietly by, not entering into the conversation. He was impressed by this Man. He wanted to speak up in His defence, but his tongue was tied. He could well imagine what his fellow associates would say. He would be debarred. He tried his best to swing the attention to the job at hand, that of judging the offenders of the law. But the session did not go well. Very little was accomplished that day.

Nicodemus would be glad when the gathering was over. He wanted to get away by himself to think. He wanted to see this Man, but how was he to get through the crowds without being recognized? What would they, and his compatriots say if they saw him--one of the leaders of the Law--talking with this Man? No. He could not do it. For the rest of the day he was miserable. His mind was on how he could get to see Jesus without being detected.

That night Jesus had a visitor. At the darkest part of the night Nicodemus crept up to where he had observed Jesus to be staying. Looking around to see that there was no one watching him, he knocked on the door. The disciples, seeing a Pharisee on the doorstep, were about to turn him away, but Jesus called to him to come in.

"Teacher," began Nicodemus. "I know that You are come from God, for no one can do these things that You do unless God is with him."

Jesus looked at the man. Here was a rare case, a Pharisee who was a genuine seeker. He said to him: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Nicodemus looked puzzled. He had never heard this philosophy before. "I don't know what you mean, 'Be born again', he said. 'How can I, who am grown, be born? Can I enter into my mother's womb and be born a second time?"

Jesus said to Him: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Nicodemus sat spellbound, a quizzical look on his face. Finally he spoke: "I don't understand. How can this be?"

Jesus looked at Nicodemus, yearning for him to understand. He knew that he had a heart that was genuinely seeking for the truth. He said to him: "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? … Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness…If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? … No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven… And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, … that whosever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life… For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life… For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God…And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil…For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come into the light, lest his deeds should be exposed…But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

When Jesus had done speaking, Nicodemus said nothing, but he left the visit knowing in his heart that he was a believer. He knew that he would no longer be able to keep his faith secret. He would have to speak up, if ever there was occasion to defend Jesus.

* * *

In John 7:40-52 we find that Nicodemus, did indeed defend Jesus. Many of the crowd gathered around Jesus, believed on Him. But there were many among the throng who derided His teachings. "Ha! Will Christ come from Galilee? Everyone knows that the Messiah is of the seed of David and will come from Bethlehem, the place David came from," the scoffers said. So there was a division amidst the multitude. Some wanted to grab hold of Jesus and deliver Him to the authorities, but no one did, for fear of those who believed.

But the chief priests and the Pharisees called the officers before them: "Why haven't you brought Jesus before the Sanhedrin? He has blasphemed and broken the Law. He says He is the Christ. He must be brought down for this. He is daily drawing men away from the traditions of Israel. He is a troublemaker."

The officers answered, "We cannot do it. The multitude would mob us. They are spellbound. There has never been a man who speaks like this Man."

The Pharisees were outraged. "What! Are you also deceived? Do you see any of the rulers of the Pharisees believing on Him? You are listening to the crowd. They are all ignorant people. They have been deceived by this Man. He is an impostor."

Nicodemus had listened in silence up to this point. But now he spoke up. "Just a minute, my fellow Pharisees. Does our law judge a man before he has had a hearing? Do we condemn Him before we have heard His side of the story?"

Nicodemus' compatriots turned on him. "Huh! Don't tell us you also are a believer in this Man from Galilee. Are you also a Galilean? Have you ever heard of a prophet coming from Galilee?" They turned away in disgust from Nicodemus. But just wait! Eventually they would trip Jesus up. Eventually they would "get" Him. They just knew they would. Nicodemus walked away from his fellows, but he was not shaken in his newfound belief. He would defend Jesus to the end. And he did.

* * *

Please read The Burial - Chapter 9 (Joseph and Nicodemus) of my All Hail To The King" Series for the full account of Nicodemus' part in defending his Lord.

But here is an excerpt:

One of the members of the Sanhedrin is Joseph of Arimathea, a good and a just man of wealth and position. He had secretly believed in Jesus but had never had the courage to come out and profess his faith, as there had been a decree that any members of the Sanhedrin who became followers of the heretic, Jesus, would be expelled from the synagogue. However, Joseph had not sided with the counsel of the Jews when they condemned Jesus.

And there is another man at the scene of the cross, right to the end (besides Joseph of Arimathea, in whose tomb Jesus was buried). Nicodemus too is a believer, and also one who has not been brave enough to acknowledge Christ openly… Like Joseph, he longs to do for Christ what he had been afraid to do while He lived. So while Joseph is getting Pilate’s permission to bury the body, Nicodemus is out buying spices and fine linens to prepare Christ’s body for burial.


© Helen Dowd

Continue with Study 6


Return to Index of Articles ]