Saint Nicodemus is written about in the Bible by the Apostle John in chapters 3, 7 and 19 in his Gospel. The first account is shortly after the Cleansing of the Temple where Nicodemius is identified as a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin who comes to see Jesus at night. The Pharisees, despite being extreme in their keeping of Jewish law and customs, were often opposed to Jesus' ministry. Nicodemus was a member of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. When he arrives in the evening with Jesus he says to Him:
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God."
Jesus replies with
“Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
Nicodemus then presses the matter, asking of the literal meaning while also seeking to draw out the true meaning behind the words.
“How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”
We then receive the reply from Jesus:
“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
When Nicodemus expresses astonishment, Jesus continues:
“Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
In John chapter 7:50-52 we find Nicodemus again:
50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
When Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus, we find that he joined Joseph and brought spices and myrrh to help honor Jesus in the burial. John 19:39 -
He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
Nicodemus' story is used often in Christianity, including the phrase "born again" to describe salvation and baptism. John 3:16 is quoted extremely often when spreading the gospel. In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr used his story as a metaphor, stating that the United States needed to be born again.