Summary: The third part of the "I Do" sermon series focusing on remaining committed even in the face of great opposition.
John 3:1-8 NIV
John 3:1 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. 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 Do, Part III – The Engagement”
We are in our third week of our “I Do” sermon series today, and to get us started this morning we are going to stay with our text and build it up a bit. This morning, we are still very early in the book of John… Jesus’ ministry was just beginning. So far in chapters 1 and 2… Jesus has called his disciples, he has gone to a wedding and changed water into wine, and for an opening act in Jerusalem at the end of chapter two… Jesus drove out the moneychangers from the temple.
The people… and the Pharisees are outraged and demand “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” and Jesus begins his wonderful game of speaking to the Pharisees in riddle and parable… “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days!” He doesn’t explain what he means, and the get even more upset at him… and he could care less. “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all them inside and out.”
Now, after all of this excitement in town… John cuts us to a scene of Jesus at night, and we meet Nicodemus… a good Pharisee… a member of the Jewish ruling council… a very religious man who had been highly educated. Now, for some reason, Nicodemus… unlike his Pharisee brothers… was able to keep his mind open to what God was doing in his midst, so when the other Pharisee muttered their irritated resentment at this impudent intruder into their province, at this ignorant upstart from the north, with his strange ways and very questionable teaching and ugly disregard for authority… Nicodemus for his part felt that there was something here that could not be dismissed so easily.
Under the cover of darkness, Nicodemus comes and speaks with Jesus, “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.” There, he had said it… out loud! Now it was time for Jesus to tell Nicodemus what a wise and faithful Jew Nicodemus was… but Nicodemus would not get any satisfaction from Jesus this night. Jesus responds immediately back to him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.”
You could almost see Nicodemus deflate instantaneously. They continue their conversation, and Nicodemus gets confused about what Christ actually means by all of this. How can I be born again when I am so old? Am I supposed to find a way to crawl back into the womb??? *mock laugh*
Jesus replies, in not so many words… that when we make a commitment to follow the spirit we can’t do it half way. You see, what it said back at the end of Chapter two was still true… Jesus knows all people and Jesus knew Nicodemus and his heart. While his intentions were good… while he could recognize Jesus’ divine call… he was only willing to go so far. That’s why we find them meeting this fateful evening… enshrouded in darkness and conversing in hushed whispers. Nicodemus WANT’S to follow Christ… but he doesn’t want to risk his position of power and authority with all of the Jews who disapprove or even HATE Jesus at this point. So Jesus pushes him. Either you follow the will of the flesh or you follow the will of the spirit! “If you are going to follow me,” said Jesus, “you are going to have to be committed, 100%… even against great resistance!”