Summary: Story of Nicodemus and his rebirth.
Born of the Spirit
Sunday March 20, 2011
Our scripture today comes from John chapter 3, verse 1-17.
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 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.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, 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? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
More commonly, this passage is referred to as the story of Nicodemus.
Who was Nicodemus? Why did he want to meet with Jesus?
Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was definitely educated. He was a leader in law and religious matters for his people. He was very important and very influential and very religious.
Yet, here he is, seeking out Jesus. With all the accolades, with all the titles and honor and fame, something was missing that caused him to seek out Jesus. Keep in mind that at this point, Jesus is just another man claiming to know the mind of God.
Nicodemus saw something more than just another preacher. He saw something more in Jesus that others were missing. There was also something missing in Nicodemus and he felt Jesus could help him fill that void.
Within this conversation, Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless they are born again. The original Greek term is actually “anothen”. This word loses some of its meaning in translation due to the fact it actually means more than one thing. Anothen means from above as well as again or anew. Essentially Jesus is saying that no one sees heaven without being born again from above. We must be reborn in the spirit of God.
That leaves us with the big question of How? How can we be reborn in the spirit? Jesus uses an interesting metaphor to provide us some direction. In verse 8 He says, “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.” As Jesus says, wind cannot be seen, nor can the Spirit of God. We can hear the wind, as we can hear the Spirit and we can feel the wind, just as we can feel the Spirit.
Again, I want you to remember that Nicodemus comes with the greatest respect for Jesus. In verse 2 he says, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."
I also think Nicodemus was hopeful that during this meeting, Jesus might say or offer him a nugget of advise that might improve his life a bit; something to give Nicodemus a little spark of energy in his own teachings.
What Jesus shares is perhaps the most well known verses of all time. 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.