Are you a skeptic?
Are you a skeptical person? Would you consider yourself open-minded? Jesus had a conversation with a man named Nicodemus who most certainly would have been skeptical toward him; but no doubt he was open-minded and willing to hear what Jesus had to say. He was a seeker searching for answers. He wanted to know who Jesus was and what He had come to do. In the course of His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus offered some vital truth about how to become a child of God; how to be part of the kingdom of God and to experience eternal life!
While we are never told that Nicodemus became a follower of Christ, his actions leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and following His crucifixion help us to answer the question: Did Nicodemus move from a Jesus skeptic to a Jesus follower? Maybe you are a skeptic of Jesus, but like Nicodemus, you are seeking answers. Maybe you know someone who is a skeptic and you want to help them to believe. Taking a close look at the account of Nicodemus, as shared in John’s gospel, will be of great benefit to you!
Nicodemus was a Pharisee who was a member of the Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem called the Sanhedrin. The Romans gave this council a great deal of authority within the Jewish community, so Nicodemus was a high ranking, highly regarded religious leader. The Pharisees were not fans of Jesus because He was usurping their influence and authority with His miracles and teaching. But Nicodemus doesn’t seemed threatened by Jesus; He is interested in knowing more about Jesus. If you haven’t read John 3:1-17, take a moment to do that now. This text gives us insight about the steps anyone can take to move from a Jesus skeptic to a Jesus follower.
How to Move from Skeptic to Believer. (John 3:1-17)
1. Open your eyes to the truth about who Jesus is and what He came to do. (John 3:1-2)
Nicodemus saw something remarkable in Jesus. So much, he was willing to take a risk to speak with Him personally. He (and some others in his circle) knew He was “from God.” They knew that His miracles authenticated who He was. If you doubt who Jesus is, like Nicodemus, just look at what He did! The gospels are full of signs and wonders. It is not hard to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah if you simply open your eyes to what He did. Will you open your eyes or challenge others close to you who don’t yet believe to open their eyes to the truth about Jesus?
2. Become a child of God by being “born again”. (John 3:3-7)
Jesus takes this opportunity to explain to Nicodemus how to make it into God’s kingdom, and ultimately, to enter His heaven. To do that, Jesus makes clear, “you must be born again” or literally, “born from above.” Jesus wants Nicodemus to understand that being a child of God is not about following rules, but experiencing a spiritual, heart transformation. (Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2;29;3:9;4:7; 5:1-4,18). Would you choose to be “born again?”
3. Believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord to be “born again”.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13
Maybe you are asking the question, Why must I be born again? (3 Reasons)
Because I am dead in my sin. 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, Ephesians 2:1; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. The penalty of sin is death. It separates us from a perfect God. We can’t be in His presence with sin present in our lives.
Because I need the gift of God’s grace. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9. Rebirth comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. That means you can’t earn it, you can’t buy it, you can’t inherit it! We are saved by God’s grace - His unmerited favor - through faith in Jesus Christ.
Because God wants to make me a new creation! 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17. Through our new birth, God begins a new work in us. To be clear that doesn’t mean we will never sin again, but that we cannot go on sinning habitually. And when we do sin, we will be convicted; we will seek forgiveness and will continue to be transformed in every way. (1 John 3:9; Romans 12:1-2)
Now, when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, Nicodemus did not have the clarity that we now have; clearly Jesus had not yet been to the cross nor had the New Testament been written, so Nicodemus is trying to take all this in. Jesus would offer Him a scriptural reference he would recognize in John 3:14-15. It should be clear to us, and would be to Nicodemus later, that just as Moses lifted up the snake on the pole so that all who looked at it might live physically, those who look to Christ, who was “lifted up” on the cross, will live spiritually and eternally. Will you choose to believe?
4. Accept how much God loves you by sending Jesus to pay sin’s penalty for you. (John 3:16-17). Have you considered how much God loves you? If you have any doubt, look at the sacrifice God was willing to make for you! Accept God’s gift of salvation for you. Invite Jesus to be your Savior and your Lord if you have never done that.
We are not told if Nicodemus became a follower of Jesus, but if you look at his actions captured in John 7:50ff. and in John 19:38ff, it seems to be clear, that after witnessing what Jesus endured on the cross, he moved from being a skeptic of Jesus to a follower of Jesus! I hope you will too! For much more, click here to listen to Easter Eyewitness - Part 2 - Nicodemus.