Open Your Bible
John 3:1-21, Numbers 21:1-9, John 7:45-52, John 19:38-42
BY Guest Writer
“There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews” who knew the law (John 3:1), but had yet to encounter love Himself. That is, until the night he came to see Jesus. For Nicodemus, faith was synonymous with his pharisaical practices. His belief system was built on the foundation of strictly adhering to the rules and doing good works to please God. Faith in the person of Jesus was hard to make sense of beyond the law. So when Nicodemus sought Him out, Jesus told him the truth:
“Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Jesus told Nicodemus he was blind! This Pharisee had heard God’s Word, but did not recognize the person of Jesus standing before him. Without believing in Jesus and being “born of the Spirit,” Nicodemus would stand “condemned” (vv.8,18). Nicodemus must have walked away confused and conflicted. Yet, after Nicodemus personally met with Jesus, something in him changed.
As we follow his story, we see Nicodemus courageously confront the other Pharisees who tried to condemn Jesus unjustly (John 7:45–52). Later, he joined Joseph of Arimathea to anoint Jesus’s body for burial with aloe and myrrh—more than a thoughtful gesture, considering Nicodemus would have known that myrrh was used to anoint high priests and kings (John 19:38–42). Were his actions implying he now understood Jesus’s true role?
As we reach the end of Nicodemus’s story, I am led to believe that Nicodemus knew Jesus, not as a distant ideology, but as a personal Savior. We see his faith, though not instantaneous, refined over a series of choices to honor Jesus as more than a teacher: a King.
This is what happens when we meet the person of Jesus—we’re given life, again! Though we may not be physically reborn, we are forever changed. A personal encounter with Jesus opens our eyes and beckons us to turn and look at “the Son of Man… lifted up” for who He truly is (John 3:14). And by believing in Him, we receive the gift of eternal life (v.15). Now we have assurance of seeing the kingdom of God—not by anything we have done, but by what Jesus has done for us.
We can now come into the light of this saving truth, no longer hiding behind our seemingly good religious deeds. Instead, we continue to practice what Scripture instructs us to do—things like giving generously to the local church, honoring our parents, obeying God by sharing the gospel, fighting against injustice, remaining faithful to our spouses, or keeping the Sabbath—knowing that our faithfulness points to our God (John 3:21). And when we are tempted to earn our salvation, may we remember that Jesus invites us to seek Him and His kingdom (Matthew 6:33), whether in the middle of the night like Nicodemus or first light of day, at work or at home, in the classroom or the car. What He has for us is not just a set of rules, but a relationship. Not just the law, but a life-changing love.
Writer and speaker Bailey T. Hurley is everyone’s favorite cheerleader for godly friendships. With a life-long heart for hospitality, Bailey offers simple friendship habits to help women build meaningful, lasting relationships. She’s written for publications like Deeply Rooted Magazine, Grit and Virtue, and Salvation Army’s Peer Magazine. She loves podcasts, and you can find her on Sally Clarkson’s “Life with Sally,” Kristin Schell’s “At the Turquoise Table,” and a dozen more. Bailey holds an MA in Leadership from Denver Seminary. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and kiddos, Hunter and Liv. Learn more at baileythurley.com.