Summary: Nicodemus wanted to come to Christ on His terms but Jesus reveal who He really was.
We have his disconnect in our society is that we attach what we do to how good we are. The more we do the better we are, and if sometimes we transgress, well we can just make that up. Our good works become a barrier to God. Some people seek religions that do this, some people create their own spiritual view point that allows this, and some even create this point of view within Christianity. For some people religion becomes the greatest barrier to God. They are so busy being religious that they can’t see what God has already done for them.
We find someone like that in the third chapter of John. Within this passage is one of the best known verses in the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Two interesting things about this verse, the first is that is so clearly states the message of the gospel, that because of love God gave us His Son so that we can live forever. It’s such an eloquent statement of that truth. But the second thing is that this is the only place in the gospel of John that Jesus is quoted as saying that God loves the world. What was going on in the conversation that causes Jesus not only to express the gospel so clearly, but to offer it to the entire world?
Well we’re going to spend the next two weeks answering that question. For the past few weeks we’ve been looking a parallel passages within the Gospel of John and next week we’re going to look at how they all come together which will make things a little bit clearer which is why I’ve titled that sermon, “Bringing it into Focus.” For today our focal verses are the first 11 verses of John 3 let’s read them. “there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these sings that You do unless God is with Him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of god. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it whishes, and you heard the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.”
It was that here He is, God come down to earth, God walking among us, and He is face to face with a man who is so blinded by religion, that He can not find God, even when God is standing right in front of him. John chapter 3 is the story of Jesus meeting with Nicodemus. We are introduced to him with these words, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” John tells us a lot about Nicodemus in very few words.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee this means he was talented. The Pharisees were the teachers of the law. This means that they had to go through extensive training. He would have had to have been noticed at a young age for this intelligence and placed in the care of a teacher. The end was a man who was not only talented but well-educated, he not only had years of study but he had learned enough to teach others. Finally he was well respected. It says that he was a ruler of the Jews, another translation says that he was “a member of the Jewish ruling council.” He was a member of the Sanhedrin. This was a position of authority and respect. John tells us a lot about this man in one simple verse.
But his use of imagery is even more important in what he writes next. “He came to Jesus at night.” Now John is describing when this conversation took place, and there are a lot of reasons that Nicodemus could have chosen to come at night. It could have been to avoid the crowds, it could have been because rabbi’s often studied at night, it may even have been because he didn’t want anyone to see him talking to Jesus. Whatever the reason was, John thought it worth noting that he came at night. I think part of the reason is because John is using the fact that he came at night to illustrate the conflict that is to come. You see in the gospel of john darkness opposes the light. It is not that they are opposite, they are in conflict. This theme is first introduced in John 1:5, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” What was John doing? Well there was a popular religious group in his time called the Hellenists part of what they did was to mix Judaism with the Greek religions to form a new belief system, a hybrid if you will. They weren’t right but they were spiritual. Does that sound familiar? We have a lot of people in our culture today who take a part of different religions and belief systems and mix them together. Part of their concept for God dealt with the light, the light representing among other things the truth. So John as he’s speaking to their culture uses this familiar conflict with the light, to show that the one true light is Jesus.