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John 3:1-18 Jesus and Nicodemus

John 3:1-18 Jesus and Nicodemus

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He 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.”

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven-the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

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Nicodemus went to Jesus because of the great miracles Jesus was doing. To Nicodemus they were evidence that Jesus was a teacher from God. “Perhaps,” Nicodemus thought, “I can learn something from this man.”

One thing Nicodemus didn’t think he needed to learn was how to be saved. Nicodemus trusted in his ancestry. He was a son of Abraham, not a Gentile sinner. As a dedicated Pharisee, he also trusted in his many good works. And finally, he looked at his membership in the Sanhedrin. Since his piety was so widely recognized by his fellowmen, surely God himself was pleased with him!

Still, there was a nagging feeling inside Nicodemus that perhaps something was missing. Perhaps his life was less than perfect. Perhaps the new prophet Jesus had the answer.

Imagine Nicodemus’ surprise to hear Jesus say that the only thing that brings a person into the kingdom of God is a second birth. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must repent and believe in the Son of Man. Nicodemus’ ancestry as a Jew wouldn’t help him. His good works wouldn’t help him. His position in the Sanhedrin wouldn’t help him. Only a second birth, brought about by the Holy Spirit, would save him.

These truths, which were difficult for Nicodemus to accept, are difficult for every human being to accept. Inside every one of us is a proud, sinful nature that refuses to acknowledge its corruption. Without the aid of God’s Spirit, we see no need for a second birth and no need for Jesus.

Jesus did have something to teach Nicodemus. It was something Nicodemus needed to know more than anything else. In the days to come, Nicodemus thought long and hard about what Jesus had said. Finally, the Holy Spirit led Nicodemus to believe Jesus’ words and be saved.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for letting me listen as Jesus told Nicodemus about how to become a member of your kingdom. Lead many more to this new birth, and sustain them and me through your Holy Spirit. Amen.