Written by: Tim Wood
In John 3, Jesus and Nicodemus have the conversation of the ages. Jesus tells Nicodemus that the way to see and enter the kingdom of God is by being born again. Nothing in John 3 indicates to us that Nicodemus became a believer that day. So the big question is did Nicodemus become a follower of Jesus? And the answer to that question is yes. The proof is in John 19: 38-42. Here’s what it says, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”
Joseph and Nicodemus do two things that demonstrate they are born again.
The first thing is they go right to Pilate, right to the Roman governor, right to a man who has just permitted the execution of Jesus for treason, the kind of governor who will be suspicious of any sympathizers and who might actually arrest his sympathizers on the spot, and say, “Give us the body.” That’s a display of incredible boldness and courage. They don’t care. They know the danger. They don’t care. This is probably the manliest thing that Joseph and Nicodemus have ever done.
Secondly, they personally anoint the body. They take the bloody and beaten cadaver and anoint it and wrap it for burial. Nicodemus brings the myrrh and aloes. Seventy five pounds! That had to be expensive. To anoint a body and to prepare it for burial was culturally considered to be woman’s work. Remember, it was women who were going to the tomb on Sunday to anoint the body. Why? Because that’s what women in this time period did. Yet, something has happened to Joseph and Nicodemus that they’re not embarrassed to do this. This is probably the most feminine thing they’ve ever done. But they don’t care anymore about their class or station. They don’t care about their macho pride. They love the One who died on the cross for them. There’s a boldness and a humility they never had before. They’re far more bold and far more humble, far more confident and far more tender and intimate than they’ve ever been before. Why? They’ve been born again.
Only the Gospel can give you confidence and humility at the same time. Confidence because you realize you are more loved by God than you ever dreamed possible. And humility because you realize your more sinful than you ever realized. Jesus’ death on the cross shows us how much God loves us and how terrible sin is, at the same time. Religion can never do that. Ask Nicodemus.