Summary: Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. He discovers that his broken religious system cannot save him. Jesus tells him he must be born again (born from above - born by God). He explains to him to Look to Jesus and Live!
“Look to Jesus and Live”
“Religion can be boring.
You don’t have to do any research to prove the point. Just compare the crowd at church with the crowds that attend baseball or football games. Apparently there is no excitement at church that compares with that of the NBA, especially when the Chicago Bulls [Golden State Warriors] are in the Play-offs. [Or Giants home opener].
Why this monotony, this lack of excitement?
It is not easy being faithful to rituals, even if we do understand their meaning. Nor is there much excitement in trying to live up to a moral standard we know we can’t meet. One person told me, ‘I find myself expending my energy for church, but I don’t get anything in return.’ This is not a new problem. By nature we humans define our religion by what we expect ourselves and others to do. And ‘doing’ becomes wearisome. Boring – at times, boring indeed.”
“How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God”, by Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pgs. 69-70
Conceivably this is the motivation behind why people want to keep tinkering with Jesus’ church that He established! It is HIS CHURCH!
Seeking to make it more:
We think we need to help Jesus out because people are less interested in being a part of what He is doing in the world.
Jesus said He would build HIS Church.
Jesus also said the powers of Hell will not conquer it (HIS Church).
Easter was two weeks ago! We were reminded anew about the Death, Burial and Resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ.
Dr. Neal Brower a few weeks before took us through the Acts of the Apostles looking at changed lives and expanding growth after the church was born on Pentecost!
God’s Church is Unstoppable!
God’s work of transforming lives is still supposed to be happening!
* I would like us to linger a little longer on the topic of the New Birth made possible because of Jesus’ work on the Cross (death, burial, resurrection and ascension).
* Linger like someone contemplating or pondering a great Masterpiece of Art!
SETTING AND CONTEXT:
John the Apostle is writing his gospel. He opened his book telling us Jesus is God the Son – the Word made Flesh from eternity past (i.e. eternal).
He closes John 2 with these words that lead us into John chapter 3.
But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
John 2:24-25 ESV
Jesus knows precisely what is going on with every person on planet earth!
* He knows my heart!
* He knows your heart!
Immediately after these verses John illustrates Jesus’ knowledge of people’s hearts from Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus a Pharisee, the Woman at the well a Samaritan, and others throughout the Gospel of John.
DIVINE APPOINTMENT WITH NICODEMUS
Now 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 signs that you do unless God is with him.”
John 3:1-2 ESV
WHO WAS NICODEMUS?
* Pharisees held to strict religious devotion (orthodox).
These guys made plans to make plans!
They had regulations to define and explain their regulations on how to keep the Law!
* They wrote the Mishnah (rules on how to keep the Law)
Examples: They could not carry food larger than a dried fig, nor an amount for a drink any larger than one swallow of milk on the Sabbath.
If they needed to draw water from a well with a bucket and a rope was not tied to the bucket they could not tie a knot in the rope. But since a woman could tie a knot in their sash they could tie a sash with a knot on the bucket.
* Some believed their roots went back to the time of Daniel.
The Pharisees sought to remain faithful to God and Israel as Daniel and the three other captives did amidst a pagan culture after being deported to Babylon.
A Ruler of the Jews
* He was a member of the Sanhedrin (Ruling Council or Assembly) made up of 71 Men (70 plus the High Priest).
The Teacher of Israel (John 3:10)
* Not just a teacher but “The Teacher” of Israel!
Nicodemus comes under the cloak of darkness to converse with Jesus.
Why at night? A case can be made for either of these views:
* He didn’t want to be seen by others talking with Jesus. Both John the Baptist and Jesus called the Religious leaders into question.