ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.
- There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:1-16)
Imagine if we could start life anew from our mother’s womb, but with the sense and wisdom of our accumulated years of the present age! You might remember the illustration of the DROP OF WATER:
“There was once a drop of water that found itself puddle in a dirty and unsavory gutter drain. It was constantly subject to being spat upon and frequented by mosquitoes laying their larvae in the water. The little drop of water looked everyday up to the beautiful blue skies above and yearend, for once, to be clean and pure, and separated from the filth of the gutter. The yearning of its heart was heard in heaven, and the warmth of the sun began to draw the small droplet up, up, and away from the filth it had always known. Being drawn higher and higher, the air around the droplet was no longer foul and smelly, but clear and pristine. Yet, it was drawn still higher by the force of the sun to levels of colder and colder air. The winds took up the droplet of water and carried it far away where it became a beautiful, white snowflake. It was deposited on the heights of Mt. Everest where its beauty could be seen, mingled with other snowflakes, for many miles around. The droplet of water, transformed by the power of Heaven, had moved from the lowest and dirtiest place, to the highest and most beautiful on earth. That is regeneration, and that is the power of God to make new the soul of man.”
If we were drawn up to such a high estate, what good amendments would we make in our lives going forward? Would we still bear a shame of declaring faith in God and His Holy Word at all times and in all places? Or would we be another Nicodemus who, being well versed in the law and prophets, as a Pharisee, but yet approach Christ under cover of darkness? We dare not judge Nicodemus without first repenting of our own failure to stand up openly at many times when we have failed of public courage in the past.
Nicodemus thirsted for knowledge of the Holy, but he was also a prominent figure of the ruling Sanhedrin. He had a reputation to mind. He did not wish to make any rash decisions. He had witnessed the amazing miracles and profound words of Jesus at the Temple. Those words touched the heart strings of Nicodemus’ soul. He suspected that there was a depth of meaning in Jesus that he must fathom – even at the risk of being exposed as an admirer. This would, of course, have meant trouble for a man in his position. So Nicodemus came at night to see Jesus. He was drawn to Jesus by the few days he had observed Him, so, he came under cover of darkness. In this respect, he had an opposite character of that of Judas the traitor. Nicodemus had just a limited knowledge of
Jesus, yet he was drawn to Him. Judas had a very thorough knowledge of Jesus, yet he betrayed him, instead of being drawn to Christ on that last night of the Supper, Judas betrayed Christ and went away from Him for his treacherous deed at night. He never saw another sunrise. It seems that instead of going out from the light into darkness, Nicodemus came in from the darkness to the Light and departed that place with a new light in his heart. Let’s examine the account from the text:
- “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2The same came to Jesus by night”
We see a contrast being drawn in the text between a man of great power, wealth, and learning; and the Lord Jesus Christ who did not have a place to lay His head. Nicodemus was an influential member of the ruling Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was also keen to the politics of the day and did not wish to be exposed as someone who would be an admirer of Chrsit – at least not until he had come to know Him for the Lord that He was. So Nicodemus came under cover of darkness.
Earlier in the day, Nicodemus had seen Christ drive out the money changers and those who made merchandise of the House of God. He had heard, that day, His strange but refreshing counsel: “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:16) He had heard the profound and beautiful teachings of Christ and seen His miracles. His logical mind could not deny that Jesus had strange powers that could only come from God, unlike those political posers who sat with him of the Sanhedrin.
If we desire to know a man better, we must find out where He is and meet Him face to face. Nicodemus obviously had scouted out Christ to know where He was sleeping in Jerusalem that first Passover of Christ’s ministry.
“……… and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”
Nicodemus has the least seed of faith in his heart, but it was enough to drive him to Christ. He recognized the power of God in Christ and he must settle the issue before the dawning of another day. Though he comes here at night, he later publicly defends Christ in the Sanhedrin (John 7:50-52) and even publicly goes with Joseph of Arimethaea to claim the body of Christ for burial even under threat of retribution from Rome and the Jewish rulers (John 19:39). The one who came by night later became one who feared no one but God. John considers the change in Nicodemus so significant that he always makes reference to Nicodemus in later references as “he who came to Jesus by night.”
Jesus is frank in His approach to Nicodemus. He knows the heart of Nicodemus, and He knows that complete transparency and blunt truth is the very thing Nicodemus needs.
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus tells Nicodemus what he desperately NEEDS to know, not that which his ears would have been comforted to hear. Nicodemus is considered by many to be a great teacher, yet he calls Christ RABBI., or Teacher. Nicodemus is not too proud to accept the role of student before superior knowledge of a better Teacher. But these words of Christ are simply too amazing for Nicodemus to grasp.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? This is not a frivolous response by Nicodemus. He does not ask WHY, but HOW. If Jesus were making reference to the Gentiles, Nicodemus could have understood somewhat, but Jesus is speaking to a ruler of the Jews – the presumed people of God! To Nicodemus, it does not make sense, but he trusts in the superior wisdom of Christ to shed light on the matter. Our first longings of faith must be satisfied through deeper inquiry even if we risk ridicule by the world. There are profound mysteries in the Bible, yet many consider themselves so accomplished scholars of the Word that they attempt to explain every mystery and leave nothing to wonder.
- Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again Nicodemus belonged to a religion that based salvation upon a complete obedience to the Law written on Tables of Stone. It was a difficult concept to beleive that his entire previous training had been lacking. Christ points to a change that is alien to Nicodemus’ thinking. There is the story of an owner of a clothing store that decided to clean his main display window. He gathered his cleaning materials and went outside to clean. After working diligently, the window appeared immaculate with the exception of a single troubling blemish high up on the glass. Regardless the efforts and elbow grease used to clean the spot, it remained a glaring flaw in an otherwise clear glass. At last he discovered that the dirty blemish was not on the outside, but the INSIDE of the glass. Regardless our efforts to dress and beautify our persons, we cannot cleanse the heart by dressing the outward appearance with good works. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7) God cleans us inside first with the purgative of the Holy Spirit ere making our appearance clean on the outside. If the heart is full of filth, it matters not the outward APPEARANCE.
When we lay down this life, we lay down the body of flesh before our parents who gave us our traits and the hereditary features of flesh. We then are drawn in the spirit back to the Father who gave us the Spirit of Life. Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Eccl 12:6-7)
Jesus shares a great mystery with Nicodemus. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Does any man have the key to the gate of the wind, to open and close as he deems fit? The Wind is no different in certain aspects than the Holy Spirit. We do not know the source of the wind, but we KNOW it has a source. We can hear the wind if we are quiet and attentive. It literally whispers as that still, small voice of God. (1 Kings 19:12) We cannot say its direction or where it is going. The Wind is unseen just as the Holy Spirit is unseen. We see its effects, but not its essence. Those who are born of God have been touched by that Wind of the Holy Spirit. Their change is complete and not prideful in display. Moreover, the sails of their souls are propelled by that Wind throughout their walk in Christ.
Can you imagine Nicodemus’ eyes squinting in effort to understand this strange new doctrine? . 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things
Nicodemus is very much like many who are educated in theology and who press a point of an olive until it becomes a watermelon. He is well educated but, unfortunately, in things that are not real. Jesus points out his ignorance to him. Many prominent theologians of our day lack the simple wisdom of a poor farmer who knows the Lord. This was Nicodemus’ problem, but he is open to amendment in understanding. I wish we all were.
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? Jesus places His evidence before the bar. He taught often in parables so that the simple farmer or fisherman could grasp greater spiritual truth when illustrated by earthly logic. But those educated too much in ‘theological error’ may not be able to grasp the simplicity of the Gospel which a child can easily grasp. It is not faith and knowledge that saves us, but ‘faith in Christ’ and right knowledge of Him. We may know the print in a thousand theological works, but if we lack the nature of a little child in faith, we are lost.
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. Despite the delusional dreams and copyrighted commercial works of many today, no one has ascended to heaven or come down but Christ.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. God sent fiery serpents among the Children of Israel in the Wilderness for their sins. When they pleaded for relief, God told Moses to erect a brass serpent on a pole for all to look unto when bitten that they might live. The serpent represented our sins that are crucified on the cross with Christ. Looking to the sacrifice of Christ, for our own sins, we are saved from eternal death. (Numbers 21:6-9) We have the same symbolized in the medical kadusa today.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life Do not be deceived by modern versions of the Bible such as the NIV. Jesus Christ is the literal ISSUE of the Father. He is God because He is of the same substance with God. Not a son or daughter through the adoption that we are, but the true and issuing Son of the Father – the only Begotten, not One and Only! As a great iron magnet draws only metal of like properties, so does Christ draw those whose souls are the malleable substance that God has created in them to respond to the pull of the Magnet.