1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus was a Pharisee (one of the leaders and teachers of the synagogue), and he was also a member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling body of the Jews at the time). How did the Pharisees feel about Jesus? What did they think of Him? Generally as a group, they hated Him and felt threatened by Him. Jesus regularly showed them how incredibly conceited they were and how little they actually knew God. They certainly knew a lot about God and the Scriptures, but they didn’t know or trust God personally.
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. ~ Luke 16:14-15
So Nicodemus comes sneaking out to see Jesus by night! Did you ever see others kids making fun of a child on the playground, and you were actually embarrassed to talk to or be seen with that kid? I’m guessing that’s how Nicodemus felt. On top of that, Nicodemus was even asking Jesus to further explain Himself and His teaching. The last thing he wanted was the other Pharisees to spot him talking with Jesus. Yet even so, he believed that Jesus had the answers as he says – “we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
When we see God do work in our lives or in the lives of others, we recognize Him! Non-believers recognize Him too.
Here we see Nicodemus approach Jesus with a statement rather than a question to open the conversation. Jesus’ response is as if Nicodemus had actually asked the question that was on his mind: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus had never heard of being “born again”. This was a whole new concept and it didn’t make much sense to him. Remember in verse 4 he said: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
When we were born, each of us was descended from the first sinner – Adam – and each of us inherited that same sin nature. Sin is anything that we do, or say, or think, that doesn’t please the perfect and Holy God. Sin is wired into us. I have hurt so many people in my lifetime, I don’t ever want to see that list!
So being “born again” means to be born into God’s family, or to be “remade”. Imagine you’ve been working in the mud and the heat, and you’re all filthy and sweaty. Then you go take a shower, and you look, feel, and smell like a whole new person! You’re fresh, clean, and people want to be around you again! (:-). When you put my trust in Jesus to remake you into a “new person”, you ask Him then to forgive your sins, and you accept the fact that He died for you and rose again so you could have eternal life – that is a rebirthing for you.
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
“Born of water” is the birth you had from your mom. “Born of the Spirit” is the birth you have through Jesus Christ when you accept His free gift of eternal life and forgiveness of your sin.
Check out verses 8-15:
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Pastor Chuck Smith said:
“There is that mysterious working of God’s Spirit within our lives and we cannot fully comprehend it or understand it, we just know it. We can see the effects of it. My mother used to ask me when I was a child, ‘Can you see the wind?’ And I said, ‘Oh, yes, I can see the wind.’ She said, ‘No, you can’t.’ ‘Oh, yes, I can, I can see it out there. Look, it’s blowing the dust.’ She said, ‘You’re seeing the results of the wind. You don’t see the wind.’ I can see the results of the Spirit. I believe it, I know that the Spirit exists. I have never seen Him, but I can feel His effect upon my life, it’s very real. I can see His effects in the lives of those around me, it is very obvious. And so are they who are born of the Spirit, there is that mystic work of God’s Spirit that I can recognize, I can feel, I can see that work of God’s Spirit within me.”
In verse 8 Jesus is telling Nicodemus that even though we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we can still see the effects of the Holy Spirit on our lives and in the lives of believers. We can see the good things that come out of the life of the believer.
What is Jesus talking about when He says the “Son of Man must be lifted up”? He is talking about His own coming death on the cross for us.
Jesus goes on to tell Nicodemus in vs 16-18:
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
God did not send Jesus to earth to condemn or to judge us. Jesus could have done that from heaven, and as a matter of fact it will happen from heaven some day for those that don’t believe. No, God sent Jesus to the world so that the world could be saved.
When God originally created man in Hs own image on Day 6 of creation in Genesis 1, He said His creation was good!
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. ~ Genesis 1:31
You see, when Adam and Eve were created, they were good! Then they sinned in eating the fruit that was forbidden, and that sin separated them from God. When you and I were each born from our mom, we were good! God looked at you as a baby and said “You are good!” But then you and I later sinned and in doing so, we became like Adam and Eve – banished from the garden of God’s presence because of our sin. But even though we sin and do wrong things, God never stopped loving each of us. That’s why He sent Jesus to earth.
Nicodemus later does believe and is “born again” and actually helps in the burial of Jesus before His resurrection in John 19:39-42 – “Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
Here is a great link if you want to pray or want more information about being “born again”, or you can message me or comment below if you have questions.