This is the first of four simple teaching outlines for youth ministry feel free to take and adjust for your needs!
Background of Nicodemus & Jesus Knows Your Heart LESSON #1
Good evening! Great Worship time guys, if you have your Bibles raise them up! If you need a Bible let a student leader know and they will help you out. Tonight we are going to begin our new series about Nicodemus. Can anyone tell me anything about Nicodemus? (Give Students the proper amount of time to respond) Does anyone know the verse John 3:16? You may not know what the context around this verse but the passage, John 3:1-21, is in the middle of a conversation Jesus had with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Does anyone know where Nicodemus is mentioned in the Bible besides John chapter three? Let’s take a look at some scriptural references of where Nicodemus is mentioned;
John 3:1-21 (already mentioned)
John 7:45-51, Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared. “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?”
John 19:39-42, 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.Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Who was Nicodemus? Nicodemus was a Pharisee, his name was Greek in origin which means, victor over the people. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin a ruler of the Jews; however nothing is known about his background. We saw in John chapters seven and nineteen that Nicodemus became a believer. In the passage we will be talking about Nicodemus is still seeking answers from Jesus.
Check out John 2:23-3:3:
23Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name, 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. 3:1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”
Here we see Jesus in Jerusalem performing miracles and they believed in His name. Like the people mentioned here there are some here tonight who believe the things we talk about but if you look in the very next verse we see something that I do not want you to miss. Check out verse twenty four; it says that Jesus knew all men and He knew what was in a man. Jesus KNOWS your HEART. True faith is much more that believing in miracles it is a whole-hearted commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior over your life. So the question tonight is; is your faith a shallow faith?
Then walks in Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, who is connected with the superficial believers whose heart Jesus read like an open book. In this passage we see Jesus pointing Nicodemus to the life changing nature of true saving faith.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, this is interesting because it could mean a couple of things, one being that Nicodemus did not represent all of the Sanhedrin and two, he did not want others to know of the inquiry. The most important part of these two is that Nicodemus showed up! Nicodemus was willing to put himself out there, remember JUST SHOWING UP DOESN’T GUARANTEE SALVATION but it is important that you showed up tonight.
Back to the question; Is your faith shallow? Have volunteers read, Romans twelve verses one through two and James one twenty two through twenty four.
Romans 12:1-2 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? To live is to, well, BE ALIVE! And to be a sacrifice is to BE DEAD! So how can one be alive and dead at the same time? It does not make sense! (Wait for student responses) God calls those that follow after Him be alive in Christ, repenting of sin, accepting the gift of salvation and allow Jesus to be Lord over our lives. God also calls us to die to self, no longer living in sin which represents selfish desires in essence dying to ourselves. If you are here tonight living for self take a moment to evaluate why you are here, really dig deep and seek God. Some are here just talking the walk instead of walking the talk. Check out our next verse.
James 1:22-24 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
How many would raise your hand if I were to ask, how many here tonight know that you only hear what we talk about and never do anything about it? (Rhetorical) The simple fact is we all at times miss the point of walking by faith! We like Nicodemus are inquiring instead of living our faith out.
As we close tonight evaluate your relationship with God and ask yourself if you are living for God or if you are living for self. Jesus knows your heart. You can not fool Him, you cannot squeak by. You either are a true believer or you’re not.
CLOSING GAME: (blind-fold obstacle course) Students will pair off in two’s – Teammate will blindfold the other and guide blindfolded teammate through obstacle course while other teams try and confuse them by yelling and making noise.
 MacArthur, John The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Moody Publishers 2006) 100