Nicodemus Visits Jesus
Text: John 3:1-21
I. Nicodemus came to Jesus one night
A. He was a ruler of the Jews, meaning that he held a seat on the Sanhedrin council, the group which served as Israel’s Supreme court.
B. Coming by night shows his interest in Jesus, but also his fear of others learning that he talked with Jesus. Some suggest that it would be the only time a busy man would have to seek out Jesus.
C. Nicodemus understood that Jesus had to be someone special
1. The miracles Jesus was doing in Jerusalem showed that God was with him.
II. Nicodemus does not actually ask Jesus a question and compared to what he just stated, Jesus’ reply seems strange.
A. Nicodemus just stated that they were aware Jesus was from God because they have seen the signs.
B. Jesus’ response is that no one can truly see (or understand) the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
1. In other words, the Jewish leaders would have to change before they could see and understand God’s kingdom.
2. The Jews had been looking for God to re-establish the physical kingdom of Israel. Unless they became converted to the ways of God, they would never see that God’s kingdom was not of this world.
C. Jesus’ response confuses Nicodemus, for precisely this reason. Nicodemus is looking at things from a physical viewpoint and does not think about spiritual things.
D. Jesus states there are two entrance requirements to the Kingdom of God
1. A person must be born of water and Spirit.
2. He explains the second part.
a. A physical birth places you into the physical world. We see things in a physical manner. We live for our physical desires.
b. A spiritual birth places us into the spiritual world. We see things in a different light, living for spiritual desires.
c. Paul expresses this in Romans 8:5
d. These two viewpoints are not compatible - Galatians 5:17
3. Just as you know wind exists without seeing it directly, a person can see the spiritual birth of a man without seeing the spirit itself. - Ephesians 4:17-24
4. Paul also connects water with a new spiritual birth - Romans 6:3-7
III. Poor Nicodemus is unable to grasp what Jesus is talking about. His worldly viewpoint was unable to see spiritual truths.
A. Jesus expresses surprise that a leader of Israel is unable to grasp spiritual ideas.
1. Jesus puts it more bluntly. He and his followers have been speaking of the things they have witnessed and the Jewish leaders do not accept that witness.
2. If they cannot except the things they have seen – the signs done by Jesus – how will they ever accept the spiritual truths taught by Jesus which are unseen?
3. No man has gone to heaven to report on the things which occur in that realm, but Jesus has come from the heavenly realm and can explain.
B. Jesus then uses an event from the days of Moses to illustrate the idea of being saved.
1. Israel had rebelled against God, so God punished them by sending poisonous snakes among the people.
a. People died and cried for help.
b. Moses was directed to make a bronze serpent, put it on a pole where everyone could see it if they so desired.
c. Those who looked on the serpent were healed, those who would not look died.
d. Did the fact that some died refusing to look at the serpent mean that God was trying to kill people? No! The serpent was to save people. It was a person’s own fault if he refused to look.
2. Jesus said a similar thing would happen. He would be lifted up (referring to his death on the cross).
a. Whoever believes on him would live, those who refuse to believe would perish.
b. This shows how much God loved the world.
c. While some would perish because they refuse to believe in Jesus, Jesus’ purpose in coming was to save people from their sins.
d. It is a person’s own fault if he refuses to believe in Jesus.
3. The reason people are unable to believe is because they have become too used to darkness (evil). They have become wrapped up in sin and preferred sin to truth.
a. This is why Jesus could do marvelous signs from God and the Jewish leaders would not acknowledge them.
b. To acknowledge Jesus would be to admit they were wrong. And few leaders would be willing to say they were wrong.
4. Those willing to change, who are willing to do righteous deeds, do not fear the light because they have done nothing of which to be ashamed.