It is our responsibility to engage the culture with the gospel. God calls us to send us out. In
the story of Nicodemus, we see Jesus confront a religious person with the truth of what it
means to be a member in the Kingdom of God. Matt helps us see through this story how we can
and need to engage religious people in our culture to help them understand the gospel.
Vs. 1 Nicodemus was a very “religious” person. He was a very aspiring person in the religious
community, a Pharisee. The Pharisees became distorted when they became proud and saw
that they were “spiritual” because of what they knew and had done.
Vs. 2 This shows a respect and humility toward Jesus. He acknowledges that God is “with”
Jesus. There is something within his soul that is burning. What he feels and believes is
different from Jesus so he wanted to press forward to know more.
Vs. 3 Jesus tells him he must be born again. Jesus acknowledges the importance and value of
the Kingdom of God and then says to Nicodemus you are not part of it. Nick had given
everything to pursue the Kingdom of God. (He had sacrificed to study, research, and serve to
gain spiritual respect).
Vs. 4 Nicodemus tries to pick apart the argument of Jesus.
Vs. 5-6 Jesus tells him that human life breads human life but spiritual life is different. Humans
cannot give birth to spiritual life. No study, discipline, good deeds, etc, can give spiritual life.
This was disturbing for Nicodemus to hear.
Vs. 7 In the mind of Jesus this is an obvious thing. It is not a matter of the will of man. God’s
spirit moves in people’s hearts according to ways we cannot understand or control. We cannot
manipulate God. God has to change a heart.
Vs. 14-15 Jesus refers back to Numbers 21. Here the people had been bitten by poisonous
snakes because they had complained against God. God told Moses to form a snake out of
bronze and put it on a pole and told the people to look up to that snake image and they would
be healed. Jesus tells Nicodemus that it is the same with him. That he would be lifted up (on a
cross) and when people look to him as their hope they would be healed spiritually.
Why would someone not look up when they had been bitten by a snake? Unbelief. All people
have been bitten by the snake of sin and judgment will come. But Jesus died for us so that we
might be healed. All he asks is that we look to him, placing our dependence on what he has
done for us.
Vs. 16 But God loved us so much he made a way for us to be healed. All who believe can be
healed. In this there is an assumption of judgment.
Vs. 17 Jesus came to bring redemption/salvation.
Vs. 18 Those who do not place their trust in Jesus are and will be condemned. Nothing but
faith in Jesus will save.
Vs. 19-21 Jesus exposes our hearts. The religious will struggle to move toward Jesus because
he is exposing their hearts.
Some Application Questions (Specifically for those who have been around church for a
while) These help show whether you do really understand.
1) What has God done for you that you could speak about in personal terms?
2) What has changed on the inside of you? (We can change things on the outside but God
has to change us on the inside)
3) What has happened in you that you were not in control over?
4) Can you explain why God does not love you more when you do good or love you less
when you do bad?
What does it mean to engage our culture?
• We are surrounded by religious people
• We are often content to let this stand. Religious people can often be non-Christians. He has called us to help religious people see their need of the gospel.
As a disciple, I must show others what God is doing in my life. (this is more than just bringing
them to church.)
Being a disciple is about sharing your faith. It is our responsibility to share our faith. We don’t
have to have all the answers to their questions. We just need to share what God is doing in our
lives. When we share our faith we help create an environment for God to move. It is also
important for us to stop living like non-Christians so that we can have an impact.