Summary: The Night Visit That Changed Everything

September 19, 2020

"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: He came to see Jesus by night…" John 3:1

Before we consider the encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus, let’s look at the events leading up to the night-time visit.

The book of John begins with a description of Who Jesus IS = “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.

He quickly transitioned into the ministry of John the Baptist, which included repentance and the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins. The religious leaders took offense because even though ritual washing was a Jewish custom, baptism by immersion was used exclusively for the person who had been converted to Judaism. Only after Circumcision and Baptism was a man considered a true son of Israel and allowed full access to the Temple. In other words - there was no need for a Jew to be baptized.

In due course, Jesus came to be baptized and John recognized Him, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”

Following Jesus’ Baptism:

• John pointed 2 of his disciples to Jesus and they began to follow Him.

• Miracle at Cana – Jesus turned water into wine.

• Cleansing of the Temple --- During Passover Jesus went to Jerusalem - 2:14-22

Jesus caught the attention of everyone in Jerusalem INCLUDING the religious leaders:

Leaders: What miraculous sign are you going to show us to prove that you have the authority to do what you’ve just done?

Jesus: Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.

Leaders: Hold on!! It took 46 years to build this Temple and you’re telling us you could raise it again in only 3 days? {they didn’t understand that Jesus was referring to His crucifixion and resurrection}

Jesus left the Temple but stayed in the city performing miracles. Many people believed and our man Nicodemus was paying attention….

Nicodemus was rich, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin – the Jewish Judicial Court. He knew the Law of Moses and he strived to live by that law in every detail. He followed the list of do’s and don’ts religiously because he honestly believed that that was what was required of him in order to inherit eternal life.

Nicodemus was the best that his religion, education, and culture could produce, yet there were gnawing questions about Jesus, this peculiar man who performed miracles and claimed to be the Son of God, because his words and deeds were unlike anything Nicodemus had ever seen. He knew his colleagues believed Jesus to be a sham at best and a dangerous threat to their beloved religious institution at worst – but Nicodemus was a seeker of truth and he had to know more. He was afraid to be seen talking to Jesus…. So, he tiptoed through the deserted streets of Jerusalem until he reached the place where Jesus was staying…. They sat down together:

Nicodemus: Teacher, we know you’re from God because no one can do what you are doing except that God is with him.

Jesus: I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus was arrogant and full of spiritual pride – and he was offended... “I mean, really. Doesn’t this carpenter know who I am?” He tried to show his intellectual superiority by making fun of Jesus:

Nicodemus: How is that possible? You don’t really think an old man can enter his mother’s womb again…. Do you?

Notice the gentleness in Jesus’ response:

Jesus: You’re talking about flesh, but I’m talking about Spirit and what I am telling you is true…. No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he has been born of water and of Spirit. What I am saying should not be a surprise to you. The wind blows and even though you hear it and feel it on your face, you don’t know where it came from – that’s how it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Nicodemus: I don’t understand!!

Jesus: How is it that you are a religious leader in Israel and yet don’t know what I’m talking about? I tell you the truth – we speak about what we know and have seen, yet you don’t believe. If you don’t believe me when I talk about earthly things how are you going to believe me when I tell you about heavenly things?

Jesus concludes by giving Nicodemus one of the most profound statements encapsulating the Truth regarding Salvation:

Jesus: The Son of Man came from heaven and just like Moses lifted up the snake in the desert {Numbers 21:4-9}, so the Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

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