Wealthy, well-positioned, famous people did not intimidate Jesus. Christ neither resented nor revered the social elite. The Savior recognized that financial prosperity could not supply peace, personal contentment, meaningful relationships, or deep-seated purpose. The wealthiest magnate could easily be lonelier, emptier, and angrier than the simplest, poorest, and most humble Christian believer.
Analyze Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus (John 3:1-15). Which events probably stimulated Nicodemus’ interest in Jesus’ message? (Hint: review John 2:13-25.) What significance does the darkness play? What is Christ’s central message for Nicodemus?
Nicodemus had witnessed God’s power and authority as revealed through Jesus’ ministry and thus sought to meet with Him, but in secret. Jesus might have refused this secretive overture, but, unwilling that any should perish, He readily accepted this opportunity to bring Nicodemus another step closer to the kingdom. Nicodemus’ poverty was spiritual not material. Enriched with worldly goods and elevated social position, he was, nonetheless, spiritually starving.
Instinctively Nicodemus rebelled against any suggestion that knowledgeable Israelites like himself should require conversion. Jesus, however, persisted, presenting Nicodemus with the eternal choice between judgment and salvation. Fearing denunciation and ridicule, Nicodemus refused to accept Christ’s invitation. The interview had apparently failed. That spiritual seed, however, lay buried, slowly germinating beneath his heart’s soil.
After the Lord’s ascension, when the disciples were scattered by persecution, Nicodemus came boldly to the front. He employed his wealth in sustaining the infant church that the Jews had expected to be blotted out at the death of Christ. In the time of peril he who had been so cautious and questioning was firm as a rock, encouraging the faith of the disciples, and furnishing means to carry forward the work of the gospel. He was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. He became poor in this world’s goods; yet he faltered not in the faith which had its beginning in that night conference with Jesus.-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 177.