Summary: In this lesson I cover the context of John 3:16, explaining the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus. I address being born again, and the significance of John 3:16.
A. Most of us are familiar with JOHN 3:16.
1. We see that word and those numbers can see it displayed in many places – especially at sporting events where the sign may be seen by many people.
2. Look at the four pictures on the screen.
a. The first is of a young man with a John 3:16 sign being chased by a security guard at a baseball game – he’s trying to get the word out and is about to be tazzard.
b. The second picture is of a guy at a football game with a colorful wig wearing John 3:16 on his shirt.
c. The third picture is of a city wall with John 3:16 painted on it – I like that kind of graffiti.
d. The final picture is of Tim Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback of the Florida Gators, who now plays for the Denver Broncos, likes to put Bible references under his eyes over the black grease.
B. Although we may be familiar with John 3:16, many of us don’t realize that Jesus uttered those famous words during an encounter with a man named Nicodemus.
1. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the cover of darkness one night in order to have a conversation with Jesus.
2. That’s why I titled this sermon – “Nic at Night.”
C. John the gospel writer treats us to many pictures of Jesus in his gospel.
1. We see that Jesus is the Word, alive in the flesh. (Chapter. 1)
2. We see that He is the Lamb of God. (Chapter 1)
3. We see Him at a wedding doing a miracle behind the scenes. (Chapter 2)
4. We see Him at the Temple cleaning house. (Chapter 2)
5. Now we see him in conversation with a man named Nicodemus. (Chapter 3)
D. Let’s begin reading the story from John 3.
1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He 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.” (Jn. 3:1-2)
2. Nicodemus was a good man, a very good man.
a. He was a Pharisee – The Pharisees were the conservative party of Jewish religious leaders.
b. Nicodemus was also religious ruler, a member of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin.
c. Nicodemus loved the Lord; he loved the law of God; he wanted to do what was right.
d. He spent his time doing what religious leaders did – discussing, debating, deciding religious issues.
E. So, Nicodemus had credentials, he had clout, and he had questions.
1. He had questions for the Galilean crowd-stopper named Jesus.
2. This backwater teacher who lacked diplomas yet attracted people.
3. This Jesus had ample time for the happy-hour crowd, but little time for the clergy.
4. People were talking about this Jesus the one who casted out demons, healed the sick, purified the temple and even claimed to forgive sins.
5. The Jewish leaders had done a background check on Jesus, and He had failed the test, but Nicodemus wasn’t as sure.
F. So Nicodemus came to Jesus at night.
1. Maybe because he was afraid and wanted not to be seen, but more likely because he wanted time with Jesus that was undisturbed, away from the crowds.
2. Either way, it was better to come to Jesus at night than not to come at all!
3. So, Nicodemus not only came, but came with a respectful, open heart. He said that no one could help but be impressed with the signs and wonders Jesus was doing. He certainly must be from God.
4. Nicodemus basically said, “I’ve done my homework, and I must say your work impresses me.”
5. Nicodemus paused, surely expecting that Jesus would reply with some kind of customary response, “And I’ve heard of you, also, Nicodemus.” Or “Thanks for your vote of confidence, it’s good that you noticed these things.”
6. But no such hospitable chitchat came from Jesus.
G. Instead, Jesus simply issued this proclamation: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (3:3)
1. Behold the Continental Divide of Scripture.
2. Nicodemus stands on one side, and Jesus on the other.
3. Nicodemus inhabits the land of good efforts, sincere gestures, and hard work.
4. Jesus’ response is basically, “Your best won’t do. Your works don’t work. Your finest efforts don’t mean squat. Unless you are born again, you can’t be a part of God.” – Keep in mind that Nicodemus is a religious leaders!
H. Nicodemus hesitated on behalf of us all.
1. He didn’t ask “why”, he asked “how?”