Many times, reputations are based on opinions. Wrong, right, or implied without regard to the truth in some instances. Most of what is said today about Nicodemus leads people to form incorrect conclusions about the man.
Nicodemus appeared in three chapters of John. To understand Nicodemus, we need to remember his background as a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish governmental body (a legalistic, self-righteous society). He first appeared to Jesus in John three. The nightly visit obscured him from his peers.
The conversation included several profound statements about man’s position before God. First is the introduction of the phrase born again (v-3), then an invitation for salvation (v-15), and finally, verse sixteen is the most quoted verse in the Bible, in which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about God’s love. He solemnly warned that without Jesus as savior, one’s eternity is condemned.
The second appearance of Nicodemus in scripture happened when the Sanhedrin was condemning Christ without a trial. As a member, Nicodemus boldly reminded the council of scripture. “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (John 7:51 ESV quoting Deuteronomy 1:16,17; 17:6). The Sanhedrin ignored Nicodemus and disregarded scripture in condemning the Lord.
Sometime after meeting Jesus at night and before the Pharisaical council meeting, Nicodemus must have accepted Jesus as his Savior, although scripture is silent as to when. There had to have been a change in the heart of Nicodemus for him to stand up for the Lord.
This change explains his participation in Jesus’ burial (John 19:38-42). Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea jointly prepared the Lord’s body for burial. Nicodemus came prepared, bringing seventy-five pounds of burial spices for the Lord’s body. He and Joseph gently prepared and placed the Lord’s body in a borrowed tomb.
So, the next time you think of Nicodemus, remember he was a changed man. He counted serving the Lord with compassion better than his political life. Consequently, Jesus first is Nicodemus’ lasting testimony.