Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him (Proverbs 26:12).
Nicodemus. If any man were to be wise in his own eyes, it could have been him. Firstly, he was a Pharisee. Pharisees were the respected religious leaders of the Jews. They were notoriously pious. Jesus was constantly berating them for their hypocrisy.
If being a Pharisee wasn’t enough, Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin… the elite ruling body of the Jews. In other words, he was the elite of the elite.
But Nicodemus wasn’t a fool. He was smart enough to recognize that Jesus possessed power and knowledge that he did not have. Nicodemus humbled himself and sought Jesus by nightfall.
It is in this context that we find the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. It is one of the clearest statements of the gospel in all of Scripture. But to whom was Jesus speaking? He was speaking to a religious man who knew he didn’t have all the answers. He was speaking to a respected man who knew the darkness of his own heart. Nicodemus was not wise in his own eyes. He sought the Savior. In John 7:51, we read how he defended the Savior and at the end, Nicodemus helped to bury the Savior (19:39).
Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus, the Pharisee, what His purpose was… Whereas the Pharisees acted the role of judge to the Jews – creating rules and handing out condemnation – “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). Jesus came into the world to save a man like Nicodemus – not because he was religious – but in spite of it. He saved Nicodemus because Nicodemus knew he needed to be saved!
John 3:16 is for the humble. John 3:16 is for the lowly. John 3:16 is for the sinner.