Nicodemus as a teacher in his own right found himself in an odd position of being taught when he asked Jesus this question: “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “Be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?” By his own lack of knowledge, Nicodemus was now in for a rude awaken, and Jesus was about to teach him and all of us a lesson in how to be born again that neither he nor we would ever soon forget.
Now as we have studied the scriptures and heard many sermons preached that Jesus was known for his skills as a Master Teacher, and of course Nicodemus was a respected teacher of Israel. Nicodemus was part of a group whose prestige had suffered the most because of Jesus popularity. The Pharisees were the conservatives in Israel. They held all the Scriptures in high regard. They believed in eternal life. They were the ones most people thought would be able to identify the long-awaited Messiah and announce Him to the people.
Unfortunately, the Pharisees had begun to think of the coming Messiah as one who would elevate and honor them when He came. But Jesus showed no inclination to do this. Instead, He called all to repentance, even the Pharisees. He made it painfully clear to the Pharisees that their devotion to Scripture was undermined by their tendency to apply it wrongly and to exalt themselves over others. Although they had diligently studied the Scriptures, they had not learned the central truths of Scripture: Justice, mercy, and faith (Matt. 23:23).
In this lesson, we understand that Jesus and Nicodemus had a private conversation late one night. We do not know whether Nicodemus had an appointment. We do not know what he wanted to say. Nicodemus came to Jesus, but Jesus guided the conversation from the start. In effect, Nicodemus took a step in the right direction, and Jesus met him more than halfway.
Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.” If Nicodemus purpose was to find out for himself whether Jesus was really a teacher from God, he did not have to wait long. Instead of defending His own credentials, Jesus offered Nicodemus an eternal lesson.
How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. “But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.”
Jesus take no prisoner’s way of teaching had to one of the toughest teachers Nicodemus had ever had to encounter. He allowed Jesus to challenge his understanding. He did not shrink from revealing his ignorance about the second birth. He listened. In spite of the fact that he was a teacher, he was willing to be taught. Jesus did not disappoint.
Now I ask of you, to join Nicodemus here this night and listen to how a Master Teacher teaches the lesson of our New Birth. He says, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.
When we know the truth, the truth will set us free, and here we can see clearly that Jesus provided Nicodemus with the gospel truth, and Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God’s love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night.
- Dead Again, Born Again (johneruggles.wordpress.com)
- Christ Witnesses to Nicodemus John 3:1-21 (loopyloo305.com)
- Nicodemus (stocktonbiblechapel.wordpress.com)
- Dear Nick: (womenswindow.com)
- What if Love Saw Your Greater Need? (glendamills.com)
- Being born again. (baptistjournal.wordpress.com)
- The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness … (tvaraj2inspirations.wordpress.com)
- Religious But Lost (pttyann2.wordpress.com)
- Why Did Nicodemus Wait Until the Cover of Dark to Visit Jesus? (vineandbranchworldministries.com)
- A question about the context of being “born again” (themysteryofchrist.wordpress.com)