There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:…
I. NICODEMUS COMING TO CHRIST. Amongst those mentioned in the closing verses of the last chapter was the Rabbi Nicodemus. To him the young man Jesus was an object of profound interest. He retired from the crowd to the Sanhedrim. There his fellow princes were in indignation at the assumption of the youthful Nazarene, and amazed at the audacity of His holiness. He leaves the Sanhedrim, and retires to his own home. He becomes anxious about this Teacher sent from God. He takes down the ancient laws and prophecies. He sees the resemblance between that young Rabbi and some of those shadowy words which lighten over the ancient parchments. A new interest gathers over the pages. While he reads the sun has set, the crowds have dispersed, Jesus has gone home. Nicodemus resolves to go to Him. The night season is all the more favourable. Nicodemus approaches the retreat of Jesus, timidly and holding back. But the door is open, and there is Jesus waiting for him.
1. Nicodemus was an anxious but haughty inquirer. The proud, moral disposition of the Jew starts into light at the first word — We know. The things of eternity will not allow him to sleep; but the opening remark of this emissary of the Sanhedrim implied that he and they had little to learn.
2. Still he made a concession. He calls Jesus Rabbi. He could call his brethren in the great council chamber no more.
3. He maintains a reserve. Something clutched at the rope and plucked you back just as you were about to tell Christ all. Christ came to him at once, and replied not to what he said, but to what he thought. You cannot see till you are born.
II. NICODEMUS DISPUTING WITH CHRIST. He came expecting to discuss with Christ the things of the Jewish Church; Christ pressed home all his thoughts to internal questions. Many came to Christ to dispute rather than to listen. The overcoming of the disputatious element in us is one of the most important preliminaries to the reception of the truth. In disputing we defend our own views rather than open our minds to the truth. Nicodemus disputing reveals to us —
1. How the carnal mind is ignorant of the things of the Spirit of God.
2. Wherein lies our difficulty of belief. It is in the How and the Why we find the great obstacles to our faith.
3. How far we may be immersed in spiritual ignorance when we seem to be most advanced in knowledge.
4. How possible it is to belong to the outward and visible church, and yet to know nothing of the great and saving change of heart and life.
III. NICODEMUS LISTENING TO CHRIST. He gives up disputation, and Christ unfolds the plan and science of salvation.
1. He asserts the inability of the man and the inutility of human knowledge.
2. The plan of Divine ability beginning with the work of the Holy Spirit and ending with that of the Divine Father.
3. The exhibition of the mediatorial sign.
4. The unfolding of the essential law of the Divine kingdom — do the truth and you will know the truth.
Parallel VersesKJV: There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: