Nicodemus is usually known only for his nighttime visit to our Lord in John 3. This, however, is not the only time he appears in the NT, even though this visit is referenced each time he is mentioned.
The Intimidated Nicodemus, John 3.
We know this story, although perhaps not as well as we might think, as we noted in our last post on Nicodemus. Some people fault him for coming at night. At least he came. We don’t know why he came. The scribes and Pharisees were noted for their arguments back and forth. There were two noted Rabbis at the time: Hillel and Gamaliel. Perhaps Nicodemus came to ask Jesus which one was right. We don’t know. Again, the thing is, he came. And the Lord sidetracked him right away, taking him into an area about which he had neither knowledge nor understanding, as we saw in the last post. It worked, as we see from following Nicodemus through the NT.
The Influential Nicodemus, John 7:50, 51.
This event happens during the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the three times in the year that all Jewish males were required to visit the Temple in Jerusalem. It was crowded. The teaching of Jesus created quite a furor, as if often did, with the common people asking a lot of questions about who He was, and the rulers of the people denying Him and doing all they could to downplay His importance. One of the questions here seems to concern where Jesus came from, namely Galilee. Somebody mentioned the prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The crowds and the rulers apparently overlooked or didn’t know that He had actually been born in Bethlehem.
The Pharisees and chief priests sent a deputation to arrest Jesus. When the deputation came back empty-handed, the leaders were furious, accusing them of being followers of Him. A remark reveals what they thought of ordinary people: “…this crowd that does not know the law is accursed,” John 7:49, apparently because they were listening to Jesus.
At this point, Nicodemus steps in, he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them, and said to them, “Does our law condemn a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
Even though the others responded with a remark about no prophet coming from Galilee, apparently Nicodemus’ question broke up the meeting, because we read in v. 53, And everyone went to his own house.
As for the remark about Galilee, a region “on the wrong side of the tracks” as far as these leaders were concerned, Jonah, Hosea, Nahum and perhaps Elijah, Elisha and Amos were from Galilee or very close to it.
The Irreversible Nicodemus, John 19:39-40.
In our fluid and tolerant society, we don’t really understand this act of Nicodemus. Oh, sure, it was an act of love and loyalty to the Savior, but we don’t really think about it.
You see, by doing what he did, touching a dead body, he became ceremonially unclean. Deliberately doing this during Passover meant that he could not partake of the Passover sacrifice.
Nicodemus risked ostracism by his society. He risked losing his position as a leader and teacher in Israel, John 3, with its attendant wealth, power and prestige. He risked whatever family he might have had, parents or wife and children. He risked being able to enter the Temple. He risked eternal damnation, cutting himself off from all OT observances
IF JESUS WASN’T WHO HE SAID HE WAS!
There was no going back. It was all or nothing for this one “who came to Jesus by night”.