by J.D. Jones

This content is part of a series.

Nicodemus (10 of 23)
Series: The Hope of the Gospel
J.D. Jones
John 3:1-2

And the chapter which tells of that meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus, and of the conversation that took place between them, is one of the classic chapters in this great and classic gospel. How came Nicodemus to seek out Jesus at all? How came a 'teacher of Israel' to seek out the Galilean prophet? How came the Jerusalem rabbi to sit at the feet of a young teacher from Nazareth? Dr. Alexander Whyte, in his lecture on Nicodemus, assumes that there is behind the story of their meeting a whole chapter of unrecorded history. His own surmise is that Nicodemus was one of that Pharisaic deputation-and possibly the chief of it-which was sent from Jerusalem to Bethany beyond Jordan to inspect John the Baptist's work and to report upon it. He was one of those who heard John testify to the near approach of that Messiah whose shoelatchet the Baptist declared himself unworthy to unloose. He was one of those who heard the Baptist's call to repent and be baptized, and who declined to yield obedience to it. And ever since that day, says Dr. Whyte, conscience had been troubling Nicodemus. He knew he ought to have gone down into the waters of Jordan with the outcasts and publicans of Palestine-for sin lay heavy on his soul. And it was this uneasy, accusing conscience of his, says Dr. Whyte, that drove him, Pharisee, rabbi, ruler as he was, to Jesus, in hope of relief.

That is an ingenious and by no means an impossible surmise, and the great Edinburgh preacher makes happy and effective use of it in his discussion of the conversation between the rabbi and the Lord. But it must be said that for Dr. Whyte's assumption there is absolutely no warrant in Scripture. It is a mere guess-a happy guess perhaps but a guess and nothing more. And there is really no need to assume as much as that to account for Nicodemus's visit to Christ. Even if Nicodemus had never been to John's baptism and had never heard John' ...

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