Did you know that this famous verse was spoken by Jesus in the context of a mysterious nighttime meeting? A man named Nicodemus, who had a lot to lose if his visit were noticed, came to see Jesus in the cover of shadows. It was an investigative sort of a trip, as Nicodemus had questions. Not only was it dark outside, but Nicodemus himself appeared to be “in the dark.”
To add to the intrigue, tell your kids this story is called “Nic at night.”
Who was this Nicodemus? Our story is found in John 3:1-17. We learn that Nicodemus was:
- a Pharisee (recall that the Pharisees argued with Jesus and ultimately saw to his arrest)
- a teacher of Israel
- a part of the Sanhedrin – the Jewish ruling council during the time of Jesus.
These descriptions tell us that Nicodemus was a prominent, respected, religious leader; a real Bible-scholar.
So, what was the reason for Nic’s nighttime trip to see Jesus?
Nicodemus could easily have been labeled an opponent of Jesus, yet it seems that Nicodemus was perhaps a covert follower. We only learn later (in John 7:45-52) that when the Sanhedrin had suggested early on, the arrest of Jesus, Nicodemus asked for just-treatment, and that after Jesus’ death, Nic helped with his burial (John 19:38-42). Since Nicodemus is knowledgeable about Scripture and specifically what the prophets of the Old Testament foretold, maybe Nicodemus has an inkling about who Jesus might be.
Could he be the Messiah?
At a minimum, Nicodemus seems to be looking for something more in his life; something that is missing; something he saw, or heard about, in Jesus. It sounds like a situation that would bring anyone to want to know more about Jesus. And herein lies one of the beauties of this story…
It’s okay to ask questions.
Whew! That’s a relief to know! I sure have questions. It is okay to ask tough questions, and it is okay if there aren’t always straight answers. (We’ll see that Nicodemus likely left his visit with Jesus even more confused.) Pondering and questioning are good!
What questions do you have for Jesus?