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Saint Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, who, according to the Gospel of John, showed favour to Jesus. He appears three times: the first is when he visits Jesus one night to listen to his teachings (John 3:1–21); the second is when he states the law concerning the arrest of Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:45–51); and the last follows the Crucifixion, when he assists Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the corpse of Jesus for burial (John 19:39–42).
The discussion with Jesus is the source of several common expressions of contemporary Christianity, specifically, the descriptive phrase born again used to describe the experience of believing in Jesus as Saviour, and John 3:16, a commonly quoted verse used to describe God's plan of salvation.
Though there is no clear source of information about this Nicodemus outside the Gospel of John, the Jewish Encyclopedia and many Biblical historians have theorized that he is identical to Nicodemus ben Gurion, mentioned in the Talmud as a wealthy and popular holy man reputed to have had miraculous powers. Christian tradition asserts that Nicodemus was martyred sometime in the first century.
Nicodemus is venerated as a saint in the various Eastern churches and in the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches commemorate Nicodemus on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, celebrated on the Third Sunday of Pascha (i.e., the second Sunday after Easter) as well as August 2, the date when tradition holds that his relics were found, along with those of Stephen the Protomartyr, Gamaliel, and Abibas (Gamaliel's second son). The traditional Roman Catholic liturgical calendar lists the same feast of the finding of their relics on the following day, August 3. In the current Roman Martyrology of the Catholic Church, Nicodemus is commemorated along with Saint Joseph of Arimathea on August 31. The Franciscan Order erected a church under the patronage of Saints Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea in Ramla.
Nicodemus figures prominently in medieval depictions of the Deposition in which he, and Joseph of Arimathea are always shown removing the dead Christ from the cross, often with the aid of a ladder. Like Joseph, Nicodemus became the object of various pious legends during the Middle Ages, particularly in connection with monumental crosses. He was reputed to have carved both the Holy Face of Lucca and the Batlló Crucifix, receiving angelic assistance with the face in particular and thus rendering the works instances of acheiropoieta. Both of these sculptures date from at least a millennium after Nicodemus's life, but the ascriptions attest to the contemporary interest in Nicodemus as a character in medieval Europe.
Nicodemus was portrayed by Laurence Olivier in the Franco Zeffirelli television miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977). In the miniseries, Nicodemus tries to warn Jesus that he might be arrested, and is there to watch the Crucifixion. He speaks the famous words "And with His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
Nichole Nordeman's song To Know You includes the lyrics: "Nicodemus could not understand how You could truly free us. He struggled with the image of a grown man born again. We might have been good friends, 'cause sometimes I still question too how easily we come to You."
Other references include songs from the Christian band For Today, in which one song entitled "Nicodemus (The Seeker)" contains lyrics hinting at his biblical legacy.
Also, in many books are there names used as Nicodemus to represent him.
In the Biblical, historical fiction, "Nicodemus" by Keith Ballard Farris, the life of Jesus is told from the point of view of Nicodemus. The story begins in Bethlehem, where the life of a young Nicodemus first collides with the changes and challenges that will tear apart his family.
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