My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family:
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. In Jesus’ time, the Sanhedrin had become corrupt and self-serving. They were bitterly opposed to Jesus who seemed to pose a great threat to their influence and power. Their diatribes and condemnation of Jesus were unremitting, eventually leading to His crucifixion and death. Nicodemus, like Joseph of Arimathea, was one of the few members who were genuinely well disposed toward Jesus. Too afraid to openly acknowledge his sympathy, he chose to meet with Jesus in the dark of night.
Nicodemus has arrived at a moment of crisis in his life. The Holy Spirit has begun moving his heart toward Jesus. Should he seek Jesus out as his Messiah, or should he stay in a religious system that has corrupted itself beyond measure? Jesus opens up the Scriptures and sets him on the road to accepting Him as his Savior and Lord! In particular, Jesus offers Nicodemus the full significance of the bronze serpent event in Numbers 21: 9 which acted as a foreshadowing of His death on the cross: “Accordingly Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.” Everyone who believes in the Son of Man lifted up will receive eternal life! His death on the cross to bring salvation to the world is His Father’s mission for Him. And the Father gave us His Son so that we might not perish but rather participate in God’s very own eternal life as His children.
Their meeting impacted Nicodemus far more than he realized at the time. Sometime later, in John 7, the temple guards sent by the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus are so impressed that they don’t arrest Him. The leadership is enraged. Nicodemus speaks up for Jesus, reminding the Sanhedrin that the law does not condemn anyone before first hearing them out. He has come under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and is moving into the light. Only John’s Gospel tells us the story of Nicodemus. In John 21: 24, ‘the beloved disciple’ claims that the Gospel of John is his written testimony. We can assume, then, that John was very invested in detailing Nicodemus’ discipleship, more so than the authors of the Synoptic Gospels. Along with the Blessed Mother and the other two women, John was the only Apostle present at Calvary as Jesus suffered and died. Among other things, these devoted disciples were definitely preoccupied with the ban imposed on Jesus by the Jewish Authorities. As a criminal, Jesus forfeited any burial rites and burial in a tomb. How could they possibly circumvent this ban and give Jesus the proper burial rites and a tomb?
When all seemed hopelessly lost, Nicodemus appeared on the scene along with 100 pounds of ointment to anoint the body of Jesus and prepare Him for burial. Nicodemus, along with Joseph of Arimathea who provided the tomb, publicly defied the ban. They refused to accept Jesus’ death as the death of a criminal. And in opposing the ban, they were willing to bear the harsh consequences that would be imposed upon them. For them, Jesus’ death on the cross was a reparation-offering on behalf of sinful humanity. Nicodemus remembered the words that Jesus had spoken to him in the night interview about dying on the cross to save the world. Through the Holy Spirit’s action, Nicodemus was now born again and entered the reign of God. God bless you! You are in our daily prayers!