The Bad Guys Aren’t All Bad Guys
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
John 3:1–2 NIV Read More
From all of the Jesus movies and the coloring pages in Sunday school, the Pharisees have become the villain of the Bible instead of the Devil. Sure, they were the most of the group that led to Jesus’ crucifixion, but in their number, there were some good guys.
Nicodemus was one of them. He came to talk to Jesus and would later show up again, risking his life and his reputation to give Jesus a proper burial. There is plenty of speculation as to why he came to visit Jesus at night. Some of the theories are directly related to whether or not you think the Pharisees were the bad guys or not!
He could have come at night because he was in secret. I think this is unlikely because Jesus’ disciples are there, so it was public and known that Nic was there.
He could have come at night because it is a symbol of him walking in darkness instead of light. I don’t think that’s it because even though John loves to bring up symbolism in his telling of the Gospel, he would have pointed out the dark/light thing more if it was important.
He probably came at night because that’s when people could talk to each other. You had to get your work done while you had light, and many visits or conversations happened over dinner which would happen around or after sundown. Rabbis studied the scriptures at night to keep from being interrupted. If anything, coming at night shows that Nicodemus really wanted to have a good conversation and learn something from Jesus.
Nicodemus freely admits that Jesus was sent by God. He even says “we” as if the Pharisees have been discussing it and there are more who believe it. In this group that is the ‘bad guy’ of the story, there are people wanting to believe. Instead of giving into prejudice and stereotypes, Jesus welcomes this man (probably to eat together!) and they have a good conversation.
Answering sincere questions with depth and insight is a great skill that we would do well to re-learn. There are plenty of people out there that know from the way you live your life that you are living for God. When they have questions, welcome them to dinner, even at night, and talk them into the Kingdom.
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