Nicodemus first came to Jesus “by night” (John 3: 1). Though he admitted that the Lord Jesus was “a teacher from God” (v2) he was clearly embarrassed, or possibly even frightened, to be seen with Him. Nicodemus had his position in Jewish society to think of: he was from “among the Pharisees” and a “ruler of the Jews” (v1). It would not do to publicly associate oneself with this maverick preacher from Galilee.
We next meet with Nicodemus in John 7, and there he displays a little more courage for God has continued to work in his soul. When the Pharisees ask “Has any one of the rulers believed on him, or of the Pharisees?” (v48). Nicodemus steps forward on behalf of Christ, saying “Does our law judge a man before it have first heard from himself, and know what he does?” (v51). He speaks up for the Lord, without, at the same time, revealing his true colours. He had heard from Christ Himself, and He could have said (as a ruler and a Pharisee) that he had believed on him. However, he was constrained by the fact that he was still “one of themselves” (v50).
The final record we have of Nicodemus is in John 19 where, following the crucifixion of Christ, he “came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds [weight]. They took therefore the body of Jesus and bound it up in linen with the spices” (vs 39, 40). Here he is described as the man who “first came to Jesus by night” as if to show how that first, secretive step towards Christ had come to glorious fruition. He was now publicly associated with a rejected and despised Christ. His days as a ruler and Pharisee would end from that moment, but an unending relationship with the Lord of glory now opened up.
We hear no more of Nicodemus. The purpose of the Spirit of God in relating his history being completed, he drops out of sight. What began in secret, the work of God in new birth, is brought out by the death of Christ in full and public confession.