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Someone who met Jesus and got a surprise: Nicodemus

To help children understand the challenge that Jesus presented to Nicodemus.

by Margaret Chapman

Suitable for Key Stage 1/2


To help children understand the challenge that Jesus presented to Nicodemus.

Preparation and materials

  • You are role playing Nicodemus. You might like to wear a headdress (see Internet for pictures).
  • The account of Nicodemus’ conversation with Jesus is in John 3.1–16.
  • The incident of the venomous snakes in the wilderness is in Numbers 21.4–9.
  • (Optional) Have a series of illustrations showing:
    –  night-time silhouette of person
    –  surprised face
    –  snake on pole
    –  Jesus on the cross
    –  The following paraphrase of John 3.16 written out (for example, on PowerPoint): ‘God loved the people of the world so much that he gave his own Son so that anyone who believes in him will have eternal life.’  


  1. (Role play Nicodemus creeping across the room.)

    I’m making a secret visit to meet this teacher, Jesus. Interested in what he has to say. Daren’t let my colleagues, the other Pharisees, know because most of them disapprove of Jesus. So I’m visiting him at night.
  2. Surprise! (Show picture of surprised face.) When I made some polite remarks to Jesus, he ignored them and told me it was no use just being religious if you wanted to be accepted into God’s kingdom. Rather, you need to start all over again, like being born all over again. What a surprise!
  3. I thought that sounded a bit stupid, so I said to him, ‘What? You mean a man has to climb back into his mum’s tummy and be born all over again?’

    Jesus explained to me that he meant God enters a person’s heart and life as they put their trust in him and not in their own goodness.
  4. Second surprise! (Show snake on pole.) Jesus reminded me of an event way back in our history. Once upon a time, there was a plague of snakes and many of our people were bitten and were dying. God told our leader, Moses, to make a bronze snake, fix it to a tall pole and invite the people simply to look at the snake in order to get better. Jesus told me that he himself would be lifted up, and everyone who looked at him, and trusted in him, would be accepted into God’s kingdom. All I needed to do was look at him.

    Wow! Was he really going to do this for people? I thought that perhaps he was the Messiah, the Rescuer, who God promised us he would send one day.
  5. Then Jesus said a really lovely thing that I’ll never forget. I’ve written it here for you so you can read it with me. He said, ‘God loved the people of the world so much that he gave his own Son so that anyone who believes in him will have eternal life.’

    What a lovely promise that is. Do you know, before I met Jesus I thought I was good enough to meet God. Now I realize that being good enough to meet God is all about trusting in Jesus instead of trusting in my own goodness.
  6. I was still a bit scared about the other Pharisees, so I’m ashamed to say I became a secret follower of Jesus. Later on, his enemies put him on that wooden cross to die and it was lifted up for everyone to see him (show picture).

    After he died, I realized the least I could do for him was to help with his burial. So I stopped being a secret follower and helped with Jesus’ burial.
  7. Do you know, three days later Jesus rose from the dead! How’s that for a surprise! (Show surprised face.)

    I’m no longer a secret follower, but a very grateful and happy one.

Time for reflection

We might think that people can only be accepted by God if they are particularly religious or good. The good news of the Bible is that Jesus is absolutely good and he came from heaven so everyone who trusts him can be accepted by God.

Dear Lord,
thank you for leaving heaven and coming to this earth.
Thank you for explaining to Nicodemus how he could be accepted by God.
Thank you for dying on the cross to show us how much God loves us.


‘Spirit of God’ (Come and Praise, 63)

Publication date: August 2012   (Vol.14 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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