Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;John 3:1(NASB)
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, which was part of the ruling class in Israel and although the nation was under the authority of their Roman overlords, they were permitted to administer religions decisions and certain civil rulings. This particular court was given considerable concessions by their Roman masters, which allowed them certain autonomy in their decisions - as long as their rulings did not conflict with Rome's rigorous regulations.
But like the Sadducees and the Herodians, the Pharisees were also a sect of Judaism that was at enmity with Christ and which became increasingly hostile towards the Lord Jesus throughout His ministry. John identified them as "a brood of vipers," during his ministry, while Jesus would pronounce severe condemnation on their pride and hypocrisy, as the Cross loomed every closer.
But Nicodemus was one of the few members of the Sanhedrin who appear to be seen in a favourable light in the Word of God. Indeed, this man, who became a 'closet' follower of the Lord Jesus, was one of the two men who placed the dead body of our Saviour in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, following His cruel death on a Roman cross - at the instigation of this ruling class of the Jews. PRAISE GOD that the tomb now stands empty!
Nicodemus was a highly regarded teacher of the Law whom we discover came to Jesus under cover of darkness. Whatever his motive for seeking out the Lord Jesus, Nicodemus represents a man with a teachable spirit who was willing to approach the Lord Jesus, seeking honest answers to his questioning heart, despite the animosity that was growing between the Pharisees and Christ Himself.
Only a short time before, Jesus is seen at the start of His ministry in the Temple of God. Zeal for the House of God consumed the Lord Jesus, and in His righteous anger He used a whip of cords to drive out the dishonest money-changers and those that sold animals to their poverty-stricken countrymen (which were to be sacrificed to the Lord) at inflated prices: "Do not make My Father's house into a house of merchandise," was Christ's scathing command to those that bought and sold in the Temple court.
"Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up," was Christ's furious challenge to the Jews on that day. And it was following this passionate outburst against all the religious leaders, that we read: "BUT there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews." Nicodemus was introduced in stark contrast with the other religious leaders, for we read: "BUT, there was Nicodemus..."
Whatever the reason that this ruler of the Jews came to see Him at night, the Lord Jesus recognised a man who was earnestly seeking the truth, and so begins the most wonderful passage that outlines to whosoever will, how to be saved - how to be born again - how to be born of the Spirit - how to become a Christian - how to see the kingdom of heaven - how to have their sins forgiven - how to gain eternal life:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; but he who does not believe in Him has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Heavenly Father, thank You for this wonderful witness of a man with a teachable spirit. I pray that like Nicodemus, I may have a teachable spirit and be prepared to come to You with all my needs and questions. Help me not to trust in my own understanding, knowing that You not only have the answer, but that You are the answer. This I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.