Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Do you know how many people have been brought to the point of faith in Christ as a result of reading the account of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:1-15? Countless! Transformed by Jesus whom he met in the shadow, Nicodemus has been instrumental in bringing countless others to the light.

Who was Nicodemus?

Nicodemus meets with JesusNicodemus was a Pharisee (John 3:1), which means he lived by the strictest possible religious rules. The Pharisees were a group of influential religious Jews who were extremely fastidious about keeping the written Law, every ritual and every little minute kind of tradition that had developed.

In the gospels, the Pharisees are often presented as hypocritical who often opposed Jesus throughout His ministry. They tell people to do things that they don’t do and they put burdens on people on legalism.

But not all of them were hypocrites (as one may infer from Jesus’ comments in Matthew 23), and evidence indicates that Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth. And He came to Jesus because he rightly considered Him “a teacher who has come from God” (John 3:2).

The Bible also tells us that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin (John 3:1; John 7:50-51), which was the highest legal, legislative and judicial body of the Jews. Under the rule of the Romans in the time of Christ, the Jews were allowed a measure of self-rule and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was the final court of appeals for matters that have to do with Jewish law and religion. It is this Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that Nicodemus was a part of.

The Meet Up

John 3:2 says Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus at night. Why at night? Many speculated that Nicodemus was afraid or ashamed to visit Jesus in broad daylight, so he went to see Him at night. It could also be that he came to Jesus by night because he wanted to have a quiet uninterrupted conversation with the new Teacher “that God has sent.”

Apparently, Nicodemus knew there was something special about Jesus and he wanted to know more. Nicodemus probably thought long and hard about what to say to Jesus. Then he started the conversation by calling Jesus “Rabbi,” which is the Jewish word for Teacher.

We can see that Nicodemus has great respect for Jesus because he calls Him “Rabbi,” a title which no doubt is the same title many used to address him, for he was a teacher of the law as well. He further refers to Jesus as a “teacher come from God.”

How did Jesus respond? He ignored Nicodemus’ greeting and spoke directly to his deepest need, which is to enter the kingdom of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus knows the hearts of men (John 2:24-25; Matthew 9:4; Matthew 12:25) so He knew exactly why Nicodemus had come.

Nicodemus needed help; he knew that he had no assurance of getting into heaven even though he has done everything he knew necessary. He has kept every rabbinic traditional law and biblical law he knew to keep. And that is why he has climbed the ladder to the top and became a highly respected teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures.

You must be born again

In essence, he was asking Jesus, “What do I do? What more do I need to do? What things do I need to delete in my life? What am I doing that I need to stop doing? What I am I not doing that I need to do?”And Jesus said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

To many Jews, to be born a Jew was to be born into the kingdom of God. Can you imagine how shocked Nicodemus was when Jesus tells him that his natural birth as a Jew will not save him and that he must be born again?

Jesus is saying, “Nothing you’ve ever done makes any contribution. Everything you are needs to be dead because everything you have done and accomplished is not enough to get you into the kingdom of God. You can’t get to God’s kingdom unless you’re born from above.”

Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant by this so he asked, “How can I be born when I am old? I can’t possibly go back inside my mother and be born a second time” (John 3:4 paraphrased).

*Note: The original words used for “born again” can be stated “born from above” (Strong’s concordance).

And Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again” (John 3:5-7).

The Need for Spiritual Rebirth

In His statement, Jesus made it clear that He wasn’t talking about a physical birth, like a baby being born. Rather, He was speaking of a spiritual rebirth – getting a new life from God. To be born again is to have another birth that comes like your first birth, from above. You have to be created by God, again, spiritually.

His entire life, Nicodemus had been trained to believe that he could earn God’s approval by following a list of rules and so it was difficult for him to understand that this new life was given by God. Here’s a man, “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10), who thinks he has reserved seats on the 50-yard line of heaven and Jesus tells him that he is not getting into heaven without being regenerated.

*Related Article: Is Born Again a New Religion?

In John 3:5-7, Jesus was not teaching that the new birth comes through water baptism as some may interpret it. In the New Testament, baptism is connected with death, not birth, and no amount of physical water can effect a spiritual change in a person.

The emphasis is on believing (John 3:10-21) because salvation comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The evidence of salvation is the witness of the Spirit within (Romans 8:9), and the Spirit enters the life of a person the moment he or she believes.

To be born from above is to be born of God. To be born of God is to be born by the work of His Spirit. Jesus now describes the sovereign saving work of God through His Spirit by using the analogy of the wind (John 3:8). One of the symbols of the Spirit of God in the Bible is the wind or breath (John 20:22; Job 33:4; Acts 2:2).

What does it mean to be born again

Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible but powerful, and you cannot explain or predict its movements. Neither can the wind be controlled. That is the supernatural work of the Spirit in regenerating a person. No one, by his owns works, or manipulation or striving can direct the Spirit in His work.

But when the Spirit brings about the new birth, the effects are evident and we know that it is God’s Spirit at work, unseen and beyond man’s control. This goes to say that neither Nicodemus nor anyone else can save themselves, or anyone else for that matter. Salvation is the sovereign work of God alone, through the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus must have been so dumb-struck by what Jesus just told him that he cannot conceive nor fathom how Jesus’ words could be true. So he asks in John 3:9, “How can these things be?” And Jesus gives him a gentle rebuke, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things” (John 3:10)?

And Jesus went on to explain to Nicodemus the best news ever told. Nicodemus could be free from all of the rules that he followed. He could be given new life by the Creator of heaven and earth and of everything if only he would place his trust in God’s Son who was standing right in front of him.

The Transformation

As a religious leader among the Jews, Nicodemus came to Jesus representing “we” (John 3:2) but Jesus immediately treated him as “you” (John 3:3). Nicodemus wanted to learn more about Jesus, but he ended up learning more about himself. He came looking for information and Jesus offered him transformation.

After the encounter, Nicodemus must have become a follower of Jesus for we read of his participation in two other memorable moments in Jesus’ life: when he spoke up in defense of Jesus’ innocence in the high council (John 7:45-53) and when he joined Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve Jesus’ body, prepare it for burial, and place it in the tomb (John 19:38-42).

Closing Thoughts

Being religious is not the same as being a Christian. Are you a Christian, or are you just religious? There is a great difference between those who are religious and those who are reborn from above. Many people today could be religious like Nicodemus but our Lord’s words make it clear that we all need to be born again.

Though all human beings have experienced natural birth on earth, if they expect to go to heaven, they must experience a supernatural birth from above. We come to Jesus from many different places and with many different purposes, but wherever and whoever we might be, Jesus lovingly says to each of us, “You must be born again.”

Have you been born from above? Have you accepted Jesus’ offer of a new birth and transformation?

*Recommended Resource: 

The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives, Hardcover
By Lee Strobel

In The Case for Grace, Lee Strobel uses his journalistic skill to tell true stories of lives transformed by the grace of God, including his own.

Discover the “how” and “why” behind God’s redeeming love! Traveling 16,470 miles to uncover powerful personal stories from across the world, Strobel offers the experiences of orphans, addicts, wayward children, prisoners, and murderers as examples of God’s amazing grace. Each interview reveals a different aspect of the Lord’s forgiveness –and its transforming power in lives and relationships. 

12 Replies to “Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus”

  1. I always get really focused and calm while reading these articles. Thank you so much for taking your time and posting about Nicodemus being transformed by Jesus and sharing the article with us.

    It was really a lovely article to read when I’m having an unpleasant day. I’m sure everyone is going to love reading this article.

    1. Hello Sujandar,

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad to hear that reading inspirational articles such as the story of Nicodemus’ meet up with Jesus gives you peace. I hope you will come back for more biblical insights and inspiration. Should you have some questions that have something to do with God, faith, the Bible, Christianity or religion, please feel free to drop me a note anytime.

      God bless you!

  2. Your website is another step in my life, courtesy of God.  I moved to Florida from Southern Indiana last May, and started attending the church my sister and her husband attended before they moved to Hawaii (I am renting their house until they get back in a few years).  As a result of an “AHAH!!! moment” due to one of the Pastor’s “Children’s Moments” during a service in October, I joined that church (Methodist, I was raised in a small Episcopal Church in West Alabama).

    Well, here is another “AHAH!!! Moment”.  Wonderfully written by you, and dropped into my lap(top) by God.  My thanks to you for writing it, and to Him for bringing it to me, and to WA for providing the method for us both.

    I have your website bookmarked (under Family).  May God bless you, thanks for this post, and Best Wishes,

    Joe (joejr49)

    1. Thank you Joe for visiting and sharing your story.

      Getting to know Christ on a more personal level is truly an amazing experience that each of us His followers long for. And although our own stories of transformation as a result of an encounter with Jesus differ from one another, we are assured that God loves us equally and unconditionally. After all, the reason God sent His Son to die on the cross is so that we will have eternal life.

      And just like Nicodemus who came to Jesus sincerely looking for answers, we too can come to Jesus anytime to have a personal conversation with Him and to know more about Him.


  3. Thank for sharing this article about Jesus and Nicodemus.

    I think a lot people are like Nicodemus was before his  transformation by Jesus, because they are religious persons and they’re not looking for the real meaning of God’s words.

    And just my thoughts why he went at night, I think it’s because at night people do things that they try to hide and at that time Nicodemus tried to hide his meeting with Jesus because he was concerned about what the other Pharisees might say.

    1. Hello and thank you for dropping by.

      The story of Jesus and Nicodemus is one of the most well-known passages in the Bible because many of us can relate to it. Like you said, people tend to overlook the necessity and significance of being born again because they assume that living by the Law is enough to get them to heaven. People think that being religious by following certain rituals is what is required to enter heaven but Jesus made it very clear that we all need to be regenerated if we want to be with God in His kingdom.

      It’s possible that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night because he was afraid of being seen by others, especially those who belong in the same circle where he’s a part of. In the same way, many Christians today are also afraid to admit that they have placed their trust in Jesus to avoid being ridiculed by their friends. But this should not be the case; we must stand our ground and let the whole world know that we’re followers of Jesus.

  4. Hi Alice, Thank you so much for this amazing article. 

    I have been a Christian most of my life and never quite understood the meaning of “being born again” until today after I read your post. I guess it makes sense now when they say going to church every Sunday doesn’t make one a Christian but being born again is, because God recreates a person’s spirit. 

    Thank you again for including  bible verses and for choosing this niche. Blessings!

    1. Hello Rachel, thanks for stopping by.

      Born again is a term that is often misunderstood not only by non-Christians but even Christians themselves perhaps because pastors and church leaders do not often spend time teaching and explaining their congregation what it really means. Although we only read the words born again during Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, it does not take away from the fact that this is a very important topic that we need to discuss more often. That’s because when we talk about being born again, we’re talking of becoming a new creation through the working power of the Holy Spirit.

      By the way, if you want to read more about the subject of regeneration, here’s an article that deals with it more extensively:

      God bless!

  5. Listening to Nicodemus being transformed by Jesus reminds me of my own story how I encountered Jesus. I learned not too long ago that Jesus loves me so much that He was willing to die for me and all He asks in return is for me to die for Him. 

    He does not require me to do or follow laws that seem impossible to follow but He requires me to have a relationship with him. Leave my old self behind me, follow in His footsteps and be more like Jesus. Have Him increase in my life so that I may decrease and when people see me they see Jesus who lives in me after I have accepted him. 

    Thank you so much for your reminder and your insight on biblical principles!

    1. Hello Wesley and thank you for reading the article and sharing your story. Just like Nicodemus who experienced transformation during his face-to-face encounter with the Lord Jesus, we too will be transformed if we would just allow God to speak to us and work in us. But before this can happen, we first need to make time to come and meet Jesus.

      Having a relationship with our Lord Jesus starts with a desire to meet with Him, listen to Him and allowing Him to transform us. As what He told Nicodemus repeatedly, we all need to be die to ourselves and let God regenerate us.

      Blessings to you!

  6. Thank you for sharing about Nicodemus.

    Indeed, being a Pharisee, and not just any Pharisee but a ruler of the Jews, it is hard for them to admit their faith in Jesus. He must be afraid to be seen by fellow Pharisees hence the night visit and it’s not nice being regarded as a traitor.

    What impressed me is that after Jesus died, Nicodemus came with Joseph to collect Jesus’ body and prepared for the burial. From hidden faith to public declaration of his trust in Jesus, it is a great transformation! 

    1. Thank you Grace for your comment.

      I guess we can say that Nicodemus must have thought long and hard if going to see Jesus even at night was a wise thing to do, considering his position. But I’m sure he’s glad he did because that encounter, no matter how short or long it took, was instrumental in Nicodemus’ transformation.

      I am reminded of the transformation that took place in the lives of Paul (formerly Saul, James (the Lord’s brother), Jesus’ disciples and many more, after encountering the risen Jesus.

      Shalom and God bless!

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