Summary: How can these things be? That was the question Nicodemus asked Jesus in our passage today. Do you ever find yourself asking that question?
A few weeks ago, when we looked at 2:23-25, I titled the sermon, “Belief That Isn’t.” This morning, I’m using the title, “Belief That Is.” Before John introduced us to the person of Nicodemus in chapter 3, he took just a few verses to describe the vast majority of people who were around Jesus at that time. If you remember, those were the people who had witnessed the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine. Those were the people who had witnessed Jesus showing His authority by throwing the money changers out of the temple. Those were the people who saw Jesus perform many miracles there in the temple during that Passover time. They saw all those wondrous things, yet 2:24 says that Jesus didn’t commit Himself to them. He didn’t commit Himself to them, because they didn’t have true belief in Him. They believed Jesus for what He could do, but they didn’t believe Him for who He really is. And then John introduces us to Nicodemus. Remember that Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was the man who had all the answers. The only problem was, all his answers were to the wrong questions. And Jesus told him so. He told him he was going to have to have a fresh start. He couldn’t improve on the package one bit. He had to start all over again. He had to be completely born again. And that brings us to our passage this morning. Has anyone ever told you something that was so foreign to you that it made absolutely no sense at all? I remember when I was in high school and my teacher was trying to explain chemistry to me. It made absolutely no sense. Last year, Katelyn had some pre-chemistry stuff in her science class that she was having trouble with. I went online to get some help trying to figure it out for myself so I could help her with it. And then I remembered. As soon as those pictures came up on the screen with all the letters and lines… I got that same old feeling. I didn’t have a clue. I would say that it was Greek to me, but I can at least recognize what I’m looking at when I see Greek. When I see a problem that has some atoms on this side and some atoms on that side… and then they tell me it makes some molecule on that side… I find myself with Nicodemus—“How can these things be?” It makes absolutely no sense to me. I’m not that smart, but I’m not an idiot either. How can I not figure it out? Because I’ve got a mental block. Because I might be thinking—I’m just not thinking the right way. That was what Nicodemus’ problem was. He was thinking. As a matter of fact, he was thinking hard. That’s why he was there in the first place. He was trying to figure out how this man could do miracles that only the power of God could allow Him to do… he was trying to figure out how to line that up with the fact that when Jesus called Himself the Son of God, in his mind it was blasphemy. So Nicodemus was trying to figure out how a blasphemer could perform the miracles of God. And it didn’t make sense. And it made a whole lot less sense when Jesus told him he was going to have to be born again before it would ever make sense. So Nicodemus pushed the issue. He said, “Jesus, none of this makes any sense—you’re going to have to completely break it down for me. I’m not going to believe you until you show me exactly what’s going on here.” And I want you to see what Jesus’ answer was in verse 11. He said, “I’ve been telling you things that both of us already know. I told you about birth. You know about the birth process, right? Well, I explained to you that you had to have a spiritual birth just like you had a physical birth. That wasn’t that difficult. You know those things. You’ve seen those things. But you know what? Even though the facts are as plain as the nose on your face, you still don’t believe.” You see, Nicodemus’ problem wasn’t that he had a lack of facts. His problem wasn’t that he had a lack of knowledge. Nicodemus was a biblical scholar. He knew the Scripture backwards and forwards. And you couple that with what Jesus told him about being born again… Nicodemus had all the information he needed and more. The problem was that he refused to put it all together. He refused to take what he knew and apply it to his life. It’s like when I saw all those chemistry pictures and refused to apply the simple math formulas to them. I saw them and immediately said, “I don’t get it.” And when I said that, I built up a wall in my mind that made sure I didn’t get it. When Nicodemus said, “How can these things be,” he was busy building a wall. Have you built a wall that keeps you from trusting Jesus? Have you built a wall that keeps you from believing Him enough to trust Him as your Lord? When you line your life up against the Word of God, do you find yourself asking, “how can these things be?” If you have, then Jesus responds to you the same way He responded to Nicodemus in verse 12. He says, “If you refuse to accept the plain teaching I’ve already given you… how do you expect me to tell you about things you really can’t understand?” You see, in His infinite wisdom, Jesus saw that Nicodemus was wanting some type of special revelation from Jesus. He wanted proof. He wanted Jesus to boil it all down to plain facts that would take any mystery away. But Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus demands that we all come to Him in faith. The only time that all the mystery will be revealed is in the last day. And if you haven’t believed before that day, you won’t want to see what is revealed to you then. Jesus gives us everything we need to believe in Him. And then He expects us to believe. In verse 13, He tells Nicodemus that in so many words. He says, “Nicodemus, I’m not going to take you up into heaven and give you all the answers. If I did, that would be sight and not faith. Nicodemus, you are in a point of need. And when you are in a point of need, you have to trust.” Guess what? You are in a point of need this morning too. And because you are in that point of need, you have to believe. Here in the last couple of verses of our passage, Jesus reminds Nicodemus of an event that was recorded in the Old Testament in Numbers 21. I want to take you back to the passage that Jesus is using here. Turn back with me to Numbers 21.