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My Name Is Nicodemus

Just like Jesus called Nicodemus to be born again, so must we.

Introduction (Framing the sermon)

This morning I will be doing something different in the sermon. I will retell the gospel story from John 3 through the eyes and voice of Nicodemus. Because I don’t normally preach this way, let me explain a few things before we begin.

First, I will say a few things that are fictional. These elements help create a sense of story and drama. But for the most part I will simply follow and quote from the biblical text as found in your Bibles in John 3.

With that in mind, let me provide some background to the person of Nicodemus. From John 3:1 we learn that he’s a man of power and influence. He has achieved success and respect as a religious leader. But he’s lacking something—a personal faith in Jesus and life in the Spirit that comes “from above.” In contrast, at this point in the Gospel of John Jesus is a somewhat obscure but controversial new rabbi who has burst on the scene. Jesus invites Nicodemus to be born from above.

Nicodemus is mentioned three times in the Gospel of John. In chapter 3 he appears as a halfway seeker, someone who is intrigued but confused by Jesus. In chapter 7, Nicodemus steps forward to defend Jesus among his religious leader peers. Then in chapter 19 he takes a surprising risk: he joins a man named Joseph of Arimethea to give Jesus a decent burial. Each time we read about Nicodemus he’s moving closer to Jesus. Based on his commitment to risk almost everything to care for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion, I believe that Nicodemus has become a true believer in Jesus.

Assuming that’s true, I’m imagining Nicodemus reflecting on that initial midnight conversation with Jesus in John 3. How did Nicodemus struggle with ...

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Matt Woodley is the pastor of compassion ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.

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