This is only the second time we learn anything about Nicodemus in the Bible. It’s part of the ongoing ‘battle’ between Jesus and the religious leaders of the day. They despised Jesus because He claimed to be God. They would have accepted another Rabbi, prophet or leader of the people much easier – Jesus got right up their noses by continually claiming to be God.
He claimed to have been alive before Abraham was born. He claimed to have been the spiritual food that God had given the people in the wilderness journey.
He performed miracles that they knew could only have been performed by God – God incarnate – as no one else could have done them. Yet, He was so human. He didn’t have a ‘regular’ background. He wasn’t a college graduate – He seemed to be just like everyone else but claimed to be God Himself. That was blasphemy and deserved death.
Yes, the Old Testament Scriptures pointed to a coming Messiah but it couldn’t have been Jesus. The promised Messiah would be a king. Jesus had no royal birth, didn’t live in a palace and wasn’t talking of overthrowing the Romans - all of which would have helped them accept Him.
Instead, Jesus had no apparent interest in politics or power and spent his time with the common people sorting out their petty illnesses and injustices, and trying to get them believe in some kind of happy ever-after. Of course, they had far more important issues to deal with.
Jesus kept saying that the people had to put into practice what He preached. He criticised the religious leaders for not doing so and denounced them as hypocrites.
The Pharisees and Scribes sent the Temple guards to arrest Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles but they were afraid to do so because the crowd was hanging on His every word. Even the guards were impressed by His teaching so failed to carry out their orders.
The religious leaders scorned and mocked the guards for their timidity and became angry. However, Nicodemus challenged them saying, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” That made him a scapegoat so they addressed all their venom at him and told him in no uncertain terms that the Christ would not come out of Galilee.
Nicodemus had changed. He went to Jesus by night so as to hide from the public eye when he went to investigate this man Jesus for himself. Having satisfied himself that Jesus was genuine and the promised Messiah, he then did what he could to protect Him and cause others to think before making quick and erroneous judgements.
Sooner or later those who trust in Jesus will be exposed because the enemy and this world do not honour Him or want Him to reign in the hearts of people.