Many people had begun following Jesus. They saw His miracles and believed He had been sent from God, although they did not yet understand that He is God the Son. But there were some groups of people who did not like how much attention Jesus was getting.
Two of these groups were the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. The Pharisees were Jewish leaders who had memorized all the rules in the Old Testament, and because they liked rules so much, they went and added on even more rules. They talked down to people whenever they forgot any of the rules. The Sanhedrin was a group of seventy men who were community leaders. Only the most important men could be a part of this special group. They were members for life. It made them powerful, respected, and often rich.
One night, a man who belonged to both groups, Nicodemus, went to Jesus to ask Him some questions.
“Sir,” he began respectfully, “we know that You have been sent by God to be a teacher. There’s just no way You could do all these miracles, otherwise.”
“You’re right about that Jesus replied, “In fact, if anyone wants to be a part of God’s family, they have to be born again from Heaven.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Nicodemus asked. “I’m a little big to be born a second time, aren’t I?”
Jesus smiled at him. “Your body doesn’t need to be born again. Your spirit does. Human parents bring life to a new baby. But that is your body in the world. It is the Holy Spirit that brings life to your spirit. That is how you can be a child of God and have a home in God’s Kingdom.”
“God loves people so much that He sent His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. Their souls will never die, but will live with God forever. God didn’t send His Son here to doom people. He sent Him to save them! None of the people who have faith in God’s Son will be doomed.”
But Nicodemus still didn’t understand that Jesus was talking about Himself, so the Lord explained it again.
“When people steal or cheat or gossip, they like to do it where no one is watching them. People don’t want to be in the light when they are doing something wrong. Those who have nothing to hide don’t mind being in the light. They want everyone to know that their good actions come from God. Well, the Father has sent a Great Light into the world. This Light shines on all people and shows what they are really like on the inside. Those whose hearts are evil hate this Light because it uncovers their true thoughts.”
Now Nicodemus understood that Jesus is the Light of the world. He is the One who shines on people’s hearts, showing them what they are really like on the inside. Jesus words stayed with Nicodemus and touched his heart. He chose to let the light of God in, and to become a child of God, born a second time in the Holy Spirit. After Jesus had been crucified, Nicodemus was there to bring His body to the tomb, finally seeing what Jesus had meant when He said the Father had sent Him into the world to save it.