Summary: Discussion of Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus
A NIGHT VISITOR’S INQUIRY
Sixth in the Series: “Conversations With Christ”
Back in 1976, JIMMY CARTER was running against President Gerald Ford. And you might recall Jimmy Carter caused a bit of a sensation. Because during HIS campaign, Jimmy Carter said publicly he was a BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN.
It caused a stir, and it was a term that was used about him over and over again.
Wow…Jimmy Carter is not just your ordinary run of the mill Christian. He was a BORN AGAIN Christian.
A few years later, I was chatting with someone who I’d just met. He was telling me he was into herbs, health foods and marijuana. I mentioned I was into Christianity. And his first response was to take a step back and look at me. And he said, "You’re not one of those BORN AGAIN type of Christians, are you?"
Now, what would YOU ANSWER to that?
I’ll tell you right from the start - and we’re going to see it John’s gospel this morning - that there’s actually NO OTHER SORT.
If you’re a Christian, then you’re a BORN AGAIN Christian. In fact, there’s NO SUCH THING as a NON BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN.
LET’S LOOK AT OUR TEXT: (The original “Nick at Night’)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus,
a member of the Jewish ruling council.
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!"
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Nicodemus was a seeker.
Nicodemus was looking through a very narrow lens in his search for a messiah…a savior.
Jesus proceeds to challenge his assumptions.
· Nicodemus as a member of the Sanhedrin and a Pharisee would have lived with a very set political view of the concept of “The Kingdom of God.”
· By that, I mean, for him the Kingdom coming was nothing less than Israel being returned to the sovereign control of the Jews.
· Here Jesus is attempting to bring Him into an understanding of the Kingdom being a spiritual quest not a political one.
· On another occasion Jesus talked about this issue;
Luke 17:20-21 “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ’Here it is,’ or ’There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you."
· My personal favorite verse describing the nature of the Kingdom of God is found in Romans 14 when Paul states;
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
· Jesus is saying that Nicodemus needs to get his spiritual eyes on in order to understand who Jesus really is.
· Nicodemus approached him as teacher and miracle worker…but there is more to know bout Jesus than these.
· I believe then, that the reference to water and the Spirit speaks of natural and spiritual birth.
LET’S READ ON:
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ’You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
· I like the way the “Living Bible” renders this verse:
“Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it will go next, so it is with the Spirit. We do not know on whom he will next bestow this life from heaven."
· This presentation of the Holy Spirit being free moving and given to all is a mind-blower for Nicodemus.
9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
10 "You are Israel’s teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?
11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?