10Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
This is not the best way to start your relationship with Jesus, but sometimes a painful truth is what we need to see clearly. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, one trained in teaching the Law of God to the people of Israel. He studied, memorized and taught everywhere he went. Not only that, Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme court of 71 men who oversaw Jewish law and life. They had the power to judge and condemn—exactly what they would soon do to Jesus.
Afraid And Curious
Nicodemus was different. He was afraid of his fellow members of the Sanhedrin, so he came to Jesus privately at night to find out more about Him. Nicodemus was bound by his tradition and deception that he was a law-abider, but he was curious enough to seek out this Man who performed miracles from God.
Though it wouldn’t happen right away, Nicodemus would become one of Jesus’ followers, after His death.
38After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
And here we see that Jesus, although He had absolutely nothing good to say to the Pharisees, was patient with them. Nicodemus and Joseph were two men who decided to follow Jesus. We know that they would eventually have to abandon everything they had known—power, respect and authority—and humble themselves before the rag-tag group of uneducated apostles, but what an honor they had.
Holding A Dead Body
Nicodemus was the one of the two men to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. He held His lifeless body in his hands. He applied ointment and perfume to His breathless figure. He wept over His form, realizing he had chosen safety and fear instead of taking the opportunity to follow Jesus in life. What a holy moment, to hold the lifeless carcass of the eternal Creator of our universe. Only two men had that honor, and this fearful ruler was one of them. It would forever change him.
Have you feared what following Jesus would cost you? Have you shrunk from pressure? Have you followed Him only at night, when no one could see? He is patient. He is good. He is kind. There is still time.
Life From Death
Nicodemus held Jesus’ lifeless body, but he would soon find out that dead flesh would forever be alive. And so would Nicodemus. And so will you who choose to follow Jesus.
God was kind to Nicodemus. This ruler of the Jews held Jesus in His death, and chose to follow Him the same. Nicodemus would choose to die to his authority, honor and respect and in so doing inherit eternal life. There is no greater goodness to experience Jesus in His death, that Nicodemus could choose to do the same.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?