In John 3:1 we are introduced to a man named Nicodemus. At first it might seem like a simple introduction…
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.”
But it’s not quite that simple. John actually begins the introduction three verses earlier, at the end of chapter two.
In John 2:25-27, John describes how it was the Passover season, and Jesus had been in Jerusalem performing miracles. Jesus had caused quite a stir, and when people saw the signs He was performing… the text says many “believed in His name.” It says they were “believing” in Jesus… but that Jesus wasn’t “believing” (the same Greek word) in them. Here’s how it reads,
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”
All that to say, things were complicated in Jerusalem. Many were seeing Jesus for who He was, and believing in Him, but those same people were entrenched within a powerful religious system that didn’t recognize the same truth. This complication caused even believing men… to be unbelievable.
We find out in John 3:1 that Nicodemus was one of these men. “Now there was a man”… a complicated man… who believed in Jesus… but was a member of the Pharisees.
Nicodemus found himself, a man of faith, in the most spiritually degenerate city of all time. Not only that, but he was a member of the Pharisees, a group of overly religious, self-promoting, power hungry, fanatics that held the religious reins in that city. It was a city to which even Jesus had to carefully plan His visits.
Later in his gospel, John lets us know that being a man of faith in Jerusalem continued to be complicated for Nicodemus (See John 7:48-52 & 19:38-39).
John’s presentation of Nicodemus as a conflicted believer in a complicated city is just one of the topics I cover in The John Study video lesson for chapter three. You can watch the video below… or preview other videos (and download chapter lessons) from The John Study by visiting: THE JOHN STUDY VIDEOS page.
You might also like the “Nick at Night” post thatdiscusses Jesus’ interaction with this complicated character.
And don’t forget to listen to the Rethinking Scripture Podcast: