Was it another case of mistaken identity or a case of misunderstanding?
It was the Passover and Jesus was in Jerusalem. He had cleansed the Temple and now He was out among the people. At the end of John Chapter two the Bible says many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He did.
Then the Bible says, “But Jesus did not commit himself to them because He knew all men.” Basically, the Bible is saying that these people who believed at this time, only believed because they saw the signs that He performed. They really didn’t accept Him as savior, but rather just as a man who performed miraculous signs.
Then John chapter three begins with these words,” There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews. This man came To Jesus by night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him!
Here is Nicodemus, a ruler of the People. He is a Sanhedrin, by his very position he holds power and authority, and he is well versed in the scriptures with probably many years of schooling. Apparently he has been a part of the crowd which saw Jesus preform man y signs, and he comes to Jesus at night time to ask Jesus some questions.
But his first words reveal that he is much like the people in the end of chapter two. He says, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
It seems that years of schooling and years of teaching Israel had done nothing for Nicodemus. No doubt he knew the scriptures. He knew them inside and out. He knew the prophecies that pointed to the coming Messiah, and yet he only saw Jesus as a teacher from God. Jesus wasn’t a teacher from God, He is God.
Jesus proceeds to tell him that he must be born again. It’s not enough to know the scriptures and to go through the motions; the heart of man must be changed by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says if any man is in Christ, he is anew creation old things have passed away and all things have become new. But Nicodemus was totally confused, and had no idea what Jesus was talking about. So he asked Jesus, how can these things be?
Jesus, if he would have been a teacher who came from God, he might have been disgusted at this point. But He is the Messiah, the Savior of all mankind, so He tells Nicodemus, you are a teacher of all Israel and you don’t understand these things. Poor Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, and yet he didn’t understand who Jesus was and why he came to this earth, but least he went to the right person for the right answers.
This wouldn’t be the last time Jesus was confronted with a similar situation. In John chapter five, the Jews are seeking to kill Jesus, but He continues to teach and in verse 39 He says, you, the Jews, you search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life and they testify of Me. Yet you are not willing to come to me that you may have eternal life.
Things haven’t changed much through the years have they? How many people just go through the motions? They may read the Bible, they may pray, they may go to church. They may do all the right things, and live a good life, thinking and hoping they are on their way to heaven.
Yet, the word of God hasn’t gone from the head to the heart. They haven’t been born again. They are like the crowd in John chapter two, following Jesus but not really believing in Jesus.
In the end, it was a case of misunderstanding of who is Jesus, and why did he came to earth? He is the Son Of God, God himself, and he came to redeem all of mankind from our sin and to give us eternal life.