There are Scripture verses that are known and have been heard by most people regardless of whether or not they have personally placed their faith in Christ. While Bible passages are heard today on the airwaves or read in print, Nicodemus, a devout Jew, had the privilege of hearing God’s gracious gift from the Savior Himself. He had come to Jesus because he had a spiritual need. That evening he heard … “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17 NIV).
That which this religious man could not find in his observance of traditions and ritual could be his by faith. Becoming a child of God could not be purchased nor obtained on the basis of human merit and effort. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV). Perhaps at the conclusion of their meeting, Nicodemus trusted Christ as His Savior and entrusted the keeping of his soul to the One who was God in the flesh. That decision led to being ostracized and condemned by the religious hierarchy who had determined to take the life of the One who is the “I am,” God Himself.
Whose approval would he pursue, man’s or God’s? It was decision time. Jesus had said … “You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again'” (John 3:7 NIV). Paul, at one time a devout Pharisee would say … “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NIV). For Nicodemus to respond by faith to the words of Jesus would be a bold choice with eternal benefits …. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned” (John 3:18a NIV). However, to reject the gift of a Savior would be eternally disastrous … “but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son” (John 3:18b).
Nicodemus’ decision to believe in Christ became evident as he later asked the Roman officials permission to bury the body of Jesus. Peter would write … “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV). “So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19 NIV).
No longer was Nicodemus just a devout Jew outwardly observing the rituals of Judaism. He now was a born-again Jew. Previous to his encounter with Jesus, his spiritual condition was one of death and condemnation. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Eph 2:1 NIV). “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:4-9 NIV). Nicodemus’ decision, made in a moment of time, brought eternal life and relationship with God forever.