Many believers struggle to meet God at a deeper, more intimate level than they did during their first encounter with salvation. Even after reading the Bible, hearing sermons, and fellowshipping with fellow believers, it’s not unusual for Christians to feel as though they’re missing something or that they haven’t been meeting God face-to-face. Often, these believers are even some of the most educated and knowledgeable churchgoers and devout followers of the faith. Scripture gives us a pertinent example of such a person: Nicodemus.

As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was a man of religious authority and power, highly respected among the Jews. This teacher of the Law had undoubtedly heard of John the Baptist and the growing popularity of a miracle man called “Jesus of Nazareth.” The elders had already asked John the Baptist whether or not he was the Messiah (John 1:19-23), revealing their keen interest in him. However, as groundbreaking as John’s message to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2) was, it was Jesus who drew the attention of Nicodemus.

Nicodemus’ interest in Jesus was strikingly different from that of the other Pharisees. While his religious peers were interested in finding a political Messiah who would shake off the shackles of the Roman Empire, Nicodemus focused on a deeper, spiritual connection with God. In John 3:1-21, he secretly meets with Jesus to discuss the burning questions of his heart.

Remarkably, this great teacher of the Torah (who knew the Law inside and out and was among the political leaders of the Jews during the Roman occupation) was not satisfied with his own stagnant spiritual walk. Meeting with Jesus would have been a dangerous act for his own career and even life. He took his own spiritual responsibility more seriously than most, and was far more open-minded about Jesus than the other Jewish spiritual leaders. He did not dismiss Jesus as a religious zealot, but gave this supposedly “unqualified” man of many miracles respect and earnestly sat with Jesus as a pupil. In Nicodemus’ mind, he was not meeting with a peer, but someone greater: a rabbi – a great teacher and knower of God.

He asked Jesus questions that revealed his own desire for truth, without the filter of his school of thought. No one else asked the questions he did, not even the disciples: “How can a man be born when he is old?” and “How can these things be?” Jesus did not casually dismiss Nicodemus’s questions as facetious or divisive. Many other Pharisees had intended to entrap Jesus in His own actions and words, but not Nicodemus. His questions came from a spiritually intellectual dialogue and a genuine hunger for Truth.

In response, Jesus noted that Nicodemus was missing the deep revelation of God and His heart for Israel and mankind, even as a “teacher of Israel”:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

–     John 3:16

What an amazing epiphany for Nicodemus! God makes his intention for mankind explicitly clear. To the people of that time, this would have been the most profound revelation of who God is and His love for not only Israel, but for all mankind! It was an intimate moment, one that would change the lives of millions to come. God met him in his vulnerable search for truth and gave him the answers he was longing for.

Like Nicodemus, we must continue to seek out God, even when others do not. Would we have this iconic passage of Scripture today had Nicodemus not searched out God? When we present our vulnerable questions, God will meet us with His presence and His undeniable love. In seeking out God, we find that He, too, is waiting for us – eager to have a conversation.

Want to delve deep into some of the deepest questions about God? Preorder one of our deepest theological teachings yet, Theology of the Trinity, coming soon. Preorder the course now and receive a $30 discount!


– Eszter Willard, ISOW Staff Writer

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