“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night…” (John 3:1,KJV).
What would you give to sit down privately and talk uninterrupted with Jesus Christ? What questions would you ask of Him? And, more to the point, would you be prepared to answer the questions He might ask of you?
Nicodemus was given just such an opportunity, and we now have that dialogue faithfully preserved in Scripture as a record for our own consideration. Perhaps it is God’s intention that we may each see something of ourselves in this roof top conversation.
Nicodemus was a man whose devotion to God led him to a life of service and success. He was both a Pharisee, and a respected ruler among the people. In our modern days the Pharisees usually get a bad rap, but that’s not altogether fair. Some of them were truly good men.
We know that the sect rose to power as a result of the heroism of Judas Maccabees — an Israeli Braveheart whose courageous faith, and passionate leadership brought about a defining moment in Israel’s ongoing quest for a Home. Hanukah commemorates that event to this day. With that auspacious beginning we can appreciate why the Pharisees understandably took the charge to preserve the purity of the Faith quite serious — sometimes even to a fault.
But Nicodemus was more than a Pharisee; he was also a member of the Sanhedrin, a ruling body that acted somewhat like the Supreme Court in matters pertaining to Faith and Duty. He was in every way well situated; his place and standing secure beyond all suspicion.
However, here is where our story turns a bit peculiar. John tells us that he “came to Jesus at night.”
Some commentaries suggest that Nicodemus was such a busy man, that the only time he could arrange a visit was in the evening. I disagree. I think maybe John is showing us that, despite the formidable arsenal of his pedigree and favored status in society, Nicodemus somehow felt he must sneak a visit with Christ at night — for fear of what his own people might think.
To this very day mighty men and women of wealth and power, despite the strength of their position, still fear what others will think and do if they take a public stand for Christ. In our liberated world you can be and do anything, no matter how bizarre, and still be generally celebrated. But the moment you make it known that you love Jesus — well — all bets are off!
Maybe you are a person of some standing in your own circle of influence — educated, successful, reasonably wealthy and influential; admired and respected. But are you so secure that you can stand up for Jesus in a day when so many are bowing down to everything else?
Indeed, there is always cost associated with being near Christ. But the question ultimately is not what does it cost; rather, what is it worth?