If there was one truth in all of the world that relates to everyone, it is the truth that everybody will one day have their one moment with the Master. In this one moment, all men will have the privilege of accepting Him or rejecting him.
Nicodemus is in the thick of his one moment; he has the attention of God the creator all to himself. In this moment God reveals his plan, purpose and promise to Nicodemus concerning the redemption process for man.
The last time we were gathered together in this text we saw Jesus at work cleansing his father’s house. The Master was angry at the sin and wicked behavior of men that was taking place in the temple. Then the story takes an amazing turn in the following verses (Jn. 2:23-25):
23Because of the miraculous signs he did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many people were convinced that he was indeed the Messiah. 24But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew what people were really like. 25No one needed to tell him about human nature.
According to the text, Jesus began to do what the Father wanted him to do on earth, and people were drawn to follow him, except he did not allow them to. He would not commit himself to any man, because he knew what was in them.
It’s a bad thing when God knows that you need him, but he won’t draw close to you. It is possible to be so sick with sin that you ask God to hook you up so you can do what is evil in your heart.
God never commits himself to the one who has evil motives to use his blessings.
The first two verses of our text today introduce Nicodemus, and the desire he had to get to know Jesus.
1After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, 2 came to speak with Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you.”
As Nicodemus begins his quest, we see that he was not only a leader in the religious crowd, he was someone who had power and influence but was not satisfied with his position. Nicodemus was on a quest to find God, seeking and searching for something to satisfy him in life.
But Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, under the cover of darkness.
- He came in secret on a quest for God.
- He came in silence on a quest for God.
- He came in seclusion on a quest for God.
Nicodemus saw what Jesus did at the Passover feast and was impressed by God, so he came by night to see if he could get to know Him.
- Night time is the time when most people are looking for God!
- Night time is when troubling-tears fall on the pillow.
- Night time is when even the rich get worried.
- Night time is when even the strong get weak.
- Night time is when even the powerful loose strength.
- Night time is when most men get vulnerable.
And night time is when the search for Jesus is at its strongest hour. Nicodemus came searching at night.
There are some more religious seekers reading this very text today. Just like Nicodemus, you have been around religion all of your life. Just like Nicodemus, you have been in control of your life.
Yet even in all of your control and all of your religious circles, you know that you don’t have a good relationship with God.
Perhaps, you too are not sure of your salvation. And just like Nicodemus you too are looking for Jesus, because you heard he can change your life.
Listen to Nicodemus:
“Teacher,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you.”
Nicodemus had watched God move in someone else’s life and came to tell him that he believed Jesus was from God. He believed because of what he saw, but he did not have a relationship with God.
- It is not enough to believe because of what you see!
- It is not enough to believe in what you heard!
- It is not enough to believe in what you believe! You must be born again!
The first thing we notice in verse three is Jesus’ response to Nicodemus’ misunderstanding of being born again.
3Jesus replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.
Jesus wants Nicodemus to know that to get into Heaven he has to die to the old man, and be born the right way (he must be born again). The first time he was born, he was born the wrong way. He has to come through a “New Birth”. He has to be born from up above.
Because of the Masters teaching Nicodemus is confused. He is used to religious talk, but not heaven talk. Nicodemus wants to think logically about the new birth. He wants to identify it in human terms. But human terms and divine terms are never the same. Jesus is speaking about spiritual matters and supernatural intervention. God is speaking to Nicodemus and he does not comprehend. Every now and then God speaks to us all and we don’t comprehend. We try to make things make sense in human terms, but they just don’t fit.
- God demands that we see the mystery of his word
- God demands that we trust the mystery of his word
- God demands that we submit to the mystery of the word.
Secondly, in the next three verses of this passage we see the only way to enter into heaven! It is through the supernatural assistance given by the Spirit of God.
5Jesus replied, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. 7So don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again. 8Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
It is the Holy Spirit that brings about the “New Birth”. First comes the water, which is the word, then comes the “New Birth”. Unless you hear the word and accept the Spirit of God, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
- You cannot be religious enough.
- You cannot be smart enough.
- You cannot be rich enough.
- You cannot be tall enough.
You can only enter God’s Kingdom by being born from above. In order to make into heaven, the Holy Spirit must come into your life and save you, causing you to become a new person. To experience a “New Birth” you must die to the old and give way to the new you. You have to become a new person in order to see heaven.
Nicodemus remains at a disadvantage in this conversation with the Master as he asks, “What do you mean?” (v. 9). As a student of the Old Testament, he has never heard of a New Birth. He was looking for the Messiah to come, but to him the Law was all he needed to see God’s Kingdom. He sees the evidence that Jesus could be the Messiah, but now he can’t comprehend the truth of God’s word.
- The natural man cannot understand the things of God.
- The natural man cannot understand the new birth.
- The natural man cannot see how a new birth will help him to get to heaven.
The natural man believes he should have something to do with New Birth. But the New Birth must come from the Spirit, by the Spirit, through the Spirit and because of the Spirit.
I am afraid that the natural man reading this today is not born again. You think you are born from above, but you are still the same old you.
I am afraid that the natural man is all dressed up, but God is still far away from you.
The natural man can’t see that he can’t get to heaven just like he is. He can’t see that the Holy Spirit does not live in the one who has not welcomed him and won’t claim him if He hasn’t been claimed. The Holy Spirit lives nowhere inside the enemy of God, nor does He lead or guide them.
The tragedy in this is that you are living a lie. The tragedy in this is that you act religious, but there’s no righteousness within. The tragedy in this is that religion can’t save you and church can’t help you.
“You must be Born again,” born from up above!
In the closing verses, Jesus recognizes that Nicodemus has unbelief! As a teacher of the Old Testament he should have realized the fulfillment of scripture in the coming Messiah.
10Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11I assure you, I am telling you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe us. 12But if you don’t even believe me when I tell you about things that happen here on earth, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven? 13For only I, the Son of Man, have come to earth and will return to heaven again. 14And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, 15so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.
Jesus clarifies again for him who he is; “I assure you, I am telling you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe us.” He is speaking for and of the triune God! In this observation, Jesus informs Nicodemus that earth is not his home, but heaven is. And if he does not believe the things he is talking about doing in the earth, how will he understand and believe the things he is doing in heaven.
In closing this conversation Jesus then reveals one last time what his purpose for coming to earth is, and what his plan fully entails in redeeming lost men.
- Jesus says ‘I have come down from heaven and will return back again’!
- Just like Moses, who offered a sacrifice in the wilderness to save man, I have come to be the final sacrifice for mankind.
To further drive home his point, Jesus brings up the Old Testament (Num. 21:5-9) in verses 14 and 15 to show Nicodemus his need for a savior and reveal who He truly is; so everyone that believes in Him will be saved and have eternal life.
- Nicodemus didn’t get it, but he was looking in the eyes of the Savior.
- Nicodemus didn’t get it, but he had his moment with the Master.
- Nicodemus didn’t get it, but one day he would!
- Nicodemus didn’t see, but one day it would come into view.
This was an amazing moment with the Master, and this moment would define and change his entire life. Have you had a moment like this with Jesus? I pray that you have and that the encounter is very real in your soul.
For Christ and His Kingdom,