Over at John Chapter seven, we read about the Pharisees and rulers of the people who sent officers to arrest Jesus Christ. They returned empty-handed.
When asked why they had not brought the One for Whom they had been sent, they simply replied that no one ever spoke like He did. Apparently, the authority of the Lord’s message and the spiritual eloquence with which He spoke it had touched them in a way no scribe or teacher of the law had ever been able to match.
The Pharisees responded to essentially accuse the officers of having been deceived, and asked them to observe and consider whether any of the Pharisees and rulers had believed on Jesus. It seems the Pharisees felt that whatever they and their peers had done about the matter of Jesus was acceptable to them simply because it was a popular attitude among them, and that same attitude should be good enough for the officers, too.
However, there was one among: the rulers of the people who didn’t feel· that way, and wasn’t afraid to stand up alone and say so. That man was Nicodemus. He asked his fellows to consider whether the law allowed for any man to be tried and convicted without knowing of what he could possibly be guilty. Though Nicodemus was soundly chided for his words, his faith in Christ had never wavered.
At John chapter nineteen, following the Lord’s crucifixion, it was Nicodemus who assisted Joseph of Arimathea in the preparation and burial of the body of Jesus. By all accounts, Nicodemus seemed to be one of the finest men in Judea. His faith was developed in spite of the influence of his peers. He openly expressed and lived that faith, among his fellows, and sought to do some kind deed in the Lord’s name.
Yet, even for all that can be said to Nicodemus’ credit, Jesus still told him at John three that he must be born again. Certainly, man had known no other definition of birth than physically bringing children into the world, and the thought of returning to his mother’s womb seemed strange indeed. However, Jesus explained that the new birth was of the water of baptism and was a spiritual rebirth, the flesh having already been born of flesh: the spirit must be reborn of spirit. With that, Jesus told Nicodemus not to marvel at the concept of the new birth. Once having understood what this rebirth was, Nicodemus would have no reason to marvel out of a lack of understanding. However, he also needn’t marvel that Jesus expected such a rebirth of him, too.
Yes, Nicodemus; the one who stood up for Christ against his peers; the one who helped prepare the body of Jesus and bury it; the one who confessed his faith to Christ; yes, one of the best men in Judea had to be born again, for, unless he was, Jesus said he could never enter into the kingdom of Heaven.