Summary: Jesus explains the new birth to the one who came by night.
He Came by Night
John 3: 1/8
Nicodemus, whose name means conqueror of the people, was a Pharisee and a “ruler of the Jews,” he was also a member of the Sanhedrin. He came to Jesus by night and was taught the doctrine of the New Birth there in Jerusalem. This meeting was supposed to have taken place in the house of John during the first Passover.
Although Nicodemus believed in the divine nature of Christ’s mission, his faith was yet incomplete for he believed that all who were born of the seed of Abraham would be in the Kingdom of God after the fashion of the Old Testament prophets. But his interest was peaked and he came to Jesus by night lest he should offend his colleagues in the Sanhedrin and the other hostile Jews.
There are those who said the poor came to Jesus by day, and the rich were ashamed to confess Jesus openly, even though they believed in the reality of what He was sent to do. A good example is Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews.
Many of the leader religious leaders in Jerusalem and Galilee attributed miracles the of Jesus to Beelzebub; but Nicodemus did not agree stating, “We know you are a teacher come from God for no man can do these miracles except God be with Him.” Nicodemus stated, “We know” not I know. Using the plural pronoun we, suggest that he had reference to other members of the Sanhedrin.
The religious leaders knew what the prophets had said concerning the Messiah that was to come. Where he would be born, the time of His coming and thought perhaps this is the one who would set up His earthly Kingdom. Nicodemus watched as the disciples and a great number of followers would surrounded Him during the day, so he chose the night to come to Christ; so he would be able to talk to Jesus alone.
Nicodemus addressed Jesus as Rabbi, or Teacher. He knew who Jesus was, and I believe that the members of the grand Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was the one that the prophets talked about, the rulers who had paid attention to His doctrine and miracles knew He was the one, but were not ready to receive Him.
Nicodemus knew that Jesus was a teacher from God, for no man can do thee miracles; perhaps because of the ministry and the miracles that Jesus performed were the reasons that he believed that He was the Son of God.
It was in this night meeting that Jesus proclaimed to him the necessity for a spiritual regeneration: “Except one is born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was confused; this is why he asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus was not talking the natural birth, but being born from above.
Jesus begins to further explain, saying the rebirth is not outward; it is not of the body but of the soul. Just as God is the real agent in the natural birth of the body, He is also the Creator of the New Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I say unto you, you must be born again.”
Only those who have experienced the new birth, and have been changed by the power of God, are qualified to judge either of its reality or of its effects. Nicodemus asked the question, “How can these things be?” At this point Nicodemus had not received such an experience in his life, he remained unenlightened so Jesus continues to explain the new birth, asking him.
“Art thou a master of Israel, and you are not aware of these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”
Verses thirteen and fourteen speaks about God’s plan in sending Christ into the world, showing God’s Divine Purpose for our relationship with Him through the atonement because of the shed blood of His son. Saying as, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness; even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”
The meeting that Jesus had with Nicodemus seemed fruitless at the time, but it had its effect upon him. We go from chapter three to chapter seven. At the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Sanhedrin heard the proclamation given by Jesus, they were enraged because Jesus said he was “the living water.” “Jesus stood and cried saying, if any thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”