John 3:1-2 “Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, a man with some clout among his people. He came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness to question Him…” (Voice]
Yesterday, we saw that the man Nicodemus was an extremely powerful and wealthy Jew. He was a member of the Sanhedrin [the council], the ruling class. Nicodemus and a lot of other Pharisees were earnest seeking men who loved God and loved the Torah passionately. In fact, the Pharisee was the movement of ‘the back to the Bible’ people in the times of Jesus. The purities, the radicals, the people that believe that you must obey the scriptures to the letter. However, they had a problem because they wanted to force it down everybody’s throat and there is no human that can obey the Bible to the letter. It is not possible!
They discovered that it is not possible to obey the Bible to the letter for themselves because they are also human beings. They too made mistakes but when they make mistakes, they would cover it up. So, Jesus said to them, ‘You hypocrites! You are putting a load on people that they cannot carry.’ ‘But Jesus, it is Jehovah that gave us the Law’, they said. Jesus said, ‘The Law was a schoolteacher to show you that you need grace. I am full of grace and truth; you need Me.’ The Law pointed to the Christ. Interestingly, the name Nicodemus is of Greek origin and it means victorious people. There is a school of thought that Nicodemus’ parents [solid Jews], believed that the Jews will be victorious at the end of the day against the inquest and the conquest of the Greek, the Romans, and all the people that occupied Israel.
When we see in the Bible that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, it suggests to us that he was a coward because of the Western way of thinking. We think that Nicodemus came at night because he was afraid so that people will not kick against him. But if you read it from a Semitic mindset and from how the scriptures were written in the context of the time it was written, Nicodemus was not a coward. In fact, coming by night did not show cowardice. For two reasons, Nicodemus was not a coward. Firstly, he came at night because that was when Rabbis exchanged and explained scriptures. Rabbis reserve the evening hours for scriptural discussions and for inter-Rabbinic exchanges. In other words, they spent the day teaching their students, discipling their students. In the evenings, Rabbis visited each other to exchange notes and rub minds.
So, Nicodemus was coming to Jesus when Jesus was open to talking to a scriptural giant so to speak. That was why Jesus was frustrated that, ‘Nicodemus, you are a teacher of the Law, do you mean you do not understand this?’ When Jesus spoke to people in the day, He spoke in parables and it was understandable that they did not understand. Nicodemus coming at night was not because he was a coward. I am guilty of that line of thinking; only God knows how many times I have read this passage and I would always conclude that he was a big coward for a good reason because they would have killed him. But he obviously wasn’t, when I dug down in the study.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, just as Nicodemus went to Jesus, I come to You, reveal deep secrets in God’s Word to me, in Jesus Name. Amen!