Summary: This sermon looks at Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus and the need to be born again.
The Kingdom of God
“A New Birth Required”
Without controversy the greatest need of the human race is to come back into the Kingdom of God; to come back into and under the rule and reign of God, which humanity left back at the Garden of Eden with the sin of Adam and Eve.
It is with this understanding of life’s greatest need that finds people drawn to one of the best-known stories of the New Testament and the gospel accounts. It is Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisee Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a teacher of Jewish law and religion, and he comes in the middle of the night to seek and interview with Jesus.
Now, in rabbinical thinking, Jesus was not really an official teacher of the law, yet he was teaching and preaching about the Kingdom of God, working miracles wherever he went, and the common man and woman were gathering to Him, along with religious leaders to witness this phenomena.
And so it was that one evening Nicodemus comes to Jesus seeking this most basic and fundamental need to humanity. And Jesus’ response puts the whole thing about entrance into the Kingdom of God more clearly and distinctly than at any other time.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)
What I find interesting about Jesus’ response is that He never allowed Nicodemus to finish his thought or ask the question that was so near and dear to his heart. He only got as far as stating what he thought of Jesus and his ministry, and how Jesus was not only a teacher of the law but how God was with Him as well.
Jesus suddenly interrupts Nicodemus and answers his question even before he asked it. Notice it says Jesus answered. Answered what? Nicodemus never asked.
Jesus interrupts because He’s teaching Nicodemus and all of us one of the most profound truths about the Kingdom of God; how it can be entered. And the reason Jesus interrupted is because He didn’t have to hear the question; He already knew what was in Nicodemus’ heart.
There’s a perfect illustration found earlier.
“But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25 NKJV)
Jesus didn’t have to wait for Nicodemus’ question, because He already knew it. Why didn’t Jesus wait? It may have been because as an instructor of Jewish religion and law he may have been embarrassed because it should have been something he knew.
And it’s no different with us. When we come near to Jesus through reading His word and prayer we need to come with our hearts wide open to meet with Him and ask,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 23:24 NKJV)
If this is our prayer then Jesus will meet with us, search our hearts, and tells us all about ourselves, even those things we’re afraid to ask.
Jesus will interrupt our carefully laid out speeches, thoughts, ideas, and rationalizations. He will read us like an open book, because nothing can be concealed from Him. He tears away our camouflage and makeup and shows us as we truly are.
And this is exactly what we need. We need our hearts interrupted along with all of its evil intents.
From John 3:3 there are three basic propositions that I’d like us to consider.
1. We Must Be Born Again
Nothing can be substituted for it. In the King James Version Jesus said, “Verily, verily.” What this means is that this is something serious and cannot not be missed. It’s important.
The phrase, “born again,” is translated several ways. Some say it means to be “born from above,” while others say, “born anew.” Both are correct as they apply to the Greek word.
But if Jesus spoke this in Aramaic, which is probable because it was the language spoken at this time, it would have been interpreted as,
“Except a man has another birth, he will never see the Kingdom of God.”
This goes a long way in explaining Nicodemus’ reply.
“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” (John 3:4 NKJV)
Yet either the Greek or Aramaic is acceptable because we cannot enter the Kingdom of God in our present condition; a new birth is required, and Jesus makes it clear that this is a spiritual birth.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5 NKJV)