Summary: An annotated outline of a basic salvation message. Nicodemus had a lot going for him, but none of it was enough.
John 3:1-21 Man’s Greatest Need
A man’s greatest desire and his greatest need are not always the same. Nicodemus was a man who seemed to have it all, except what he needed most. He wasn’t yet prepared to enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus made it clear about those who would not be able to enter His kingdom.
Matthew 7:21 - “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven… [It’s not just religious talk].
Matthew 18:3 – [Jesus said] “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. [It’s not a matter of great maturity].
Mark 10:23 – [Jesus said] “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! [It is not a matter of having the greatest earthly wealth].
I. Nicodemus had great religious credentials, but that wasn’t enough.
A. He was a Pharisee, the strictest religious group.
B. He was a ruler of the Jews, a member of the Sanhedrin [a council of the top 70 men of Israel].
C. He had plenty of religious status, but that just wasn’t enough.
It’s kinda like the Shania Twain song, “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” The sons starts off saying: “I’ve known a few guys who thought they were pretty smart, But you’ve got being right down to an art. You think you’re a genius-you drive me up the wall.
You’re a regular original, a know-it-all.
Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re special.
Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re something else.
Okay, so you’re a rocket scientist,
That don’t impress me much…”
Most people would have been really impressed to have the great Nicodemus come visiting them. But that just didn’t impress Jesus that much, because as John 2:25 said “…He knew what was in man.” Nicodemus looked great on the outside, but inside he was missing something crucial.
II. Nicodemus had great respect for Jesus, but that wasn’t enough.
A. Nicodemus understood that Jesus was a man of God. (2)
B. He understood that God was with Jesus in His ministry. (2)
1. No doubt he had seen, or at least heard about, the miracles of Jesus.
2. Perhaps he had heard some of Jesus’ beautiful teaching.
C. Many people thought Jesus was a great man or a great teacher, but not the one and only Savior.
Matthew 16:13-16 - When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” [That’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it?] Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell.
You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."
III. Nicodemus came to Jesus wanting more knowledge, and that’s good, but it wasn’t enough.
A. He was a nationally known Bible teacher in the strictest denomination, but that wasn’t enough.
B. Jesus taught that God requires a righteousness far greater than the scribes & Pharisees.
Matthew 5:19-20 - Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
C. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for having a lot of Bible knowledge, but no spiritual life.
John 5:39-40 - You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
D. Jesus didn’t rebuke Nicodemus for his coming by night. Each time he is mentioned this detail is included.