During Jesus’s earthly ministry, he attracted a lot of attention from important people. One of the most memorable was Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, the same group of men who, in alliance with the Romans, eventually had Jesus crucified. But Nicodemus had a very different relationship with our Savior – one that totally transformed him. When he first met with Jesus, Nicodemus insisted they do so at night. Why? Because he had a lot to lose by being seen with this man whose teaching stood so strongly at odds with the teachings of his peers. He was ashamed to be seen with him.
But this couldn’t be any more different from the Nicodemus we read about just a short time later. The Bible tells us that not only did he defend Jesus to his fellow Sanhedrin members, Nicodemus was also one of the two men who asked Pilate in person to care for the body of Jesus after his death. This difference between Nicodemus before and after he met Christ is the difference between night and day. So what changed? Well, it’s the same change that takes place in all of us after we meet and are transformed by a relationship with Jesus.
Just like Nicodemus, before we meet our Savior many of us have put our trust in ourselves for our own spiritual welfare. Unfortunately, as Nicodemus knew, this doesn’t quite work out. As fallen human beings, we’re incapable of saving ourselves. Thankfully, there’s hope. As Jesus told him, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned…” (John 3:17-18 NIV).
After meeting the Son of God in person and putting his trust in him for eternal life, Nicodemus knew that before God, he stood spotless and pure in Christ. He had nothing to be ashamed of. He had experienced exactly what Jesus told him would happen: “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:21 NIV).
After we’ve entered a relationship with Jesus, we exchange trust in our selves for trust in Jesus, who has set us free to live a life of grace. And just like Nicodemus, that difference can be as big as the difference between night and day.