Summary: Message 6 covering Jesus and Nicodemus and the means to new birth.
Chico Alliance Church
“Nic at Night”
The first chapter of John is like the overture to a grand symphony.
John introduces us, in this first chapter, to nearly every theme he will explore throughout his writing.
I. Initial presentation of the Word and His witness 1:1-34
A. Introduced Jesus 1:1-5
B. Introduced John the Baptist 1:6-8
C. Described the relationship of the Word to Men 1:9-18
D. Rerecorded John’s eye witness testimony concerning the Lamb 19-34
E. Introduced some core disciples to the Word 37-51
II. The Public ministry and Teaching of the Word 2-12
A. Jesus inspired belief at a wedding Cana 2:1-12
B. Jesus cleansed the Temple at Passover 2:13-25
Introduction to Today
This two way conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus contains some of the most powerful truths in all of the Bible.
C. Jesus Instructed Nicodemus concerning new birth and new life 3:1-21
1. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night 1-2
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
NICODEMUS. The name is Gk. and means ‘conqueror of the people’. He is mentioned only in the Fourth Gospel, where he is described as a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews (i.e. a member of the Sanhedrin) who visited Jesus by night (Jn. 3:1-21). He seems to have been an earnest man attracted by the character and teaching of Jesus but afraid to allow this interest to be known by his fellow Pharisees. He could not understand the spiritual metaphors used by Christ. Nicodemus fades from the scene and we are left with Christ’s word to a Judaism wrapped in darkness.
Nicodemus is mentioned again in Jn. 7:50-52, where he showed more courage in protesting against the condemnation of Christ without giving him a hearing. The final reference is in Jn. 19:40, where he is said to have brought a lavish gift of spices to anoint the body of Christ. Nothing more is known of him despite a large number of legends (e.g. in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus). His identification with the wealthy and generous Naqdimon ben-Gorion of the Talmud is uncertain.
The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.
Nicodemus is a Pharisee. Pharisee became both a religious and a political designation. A Pharisee was one who held very conservative views. They dedicated themselves to a strict observance of the Law of Moses along with a multitude of regulations attached by them over the years.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus exposed them as arrogant hypocrites. Just as in any group, not all in the group bear the same defects as the majority. So in Nicodemus we find one who demonstrated a genuine interest in knowing the truth. He addressed Jesus with a term used for a respected teacher of truth – “Rabbi”
Nicodemus came to learn from one he came to recognize as a teacher from God.
(“oida” – perfect tense we have become convinced by observation)
Nicodemus came expecting to learn truth from God. He explains how he came to such a conclusion. “No one is able to continually do the things You do unless God is with him.”
From the very beginning the glory of the only begotten of the Father radiated and manifested to those who saw Him.
2. Jesus affirmed the necessity of new birth 3
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Jesus rarely wasted words. Nicodemus came to learn truth. Truth he would receive. Jesus swiftly shot into the upper atmosphere. “Amen. Amen” Acknowledgement of what is valid or binding.
When Jesus places Amen before his own sayings, both in the Synoptics and (liturgically doubled) in John, the point is to stress the truth and validity of the sayings by his own acknowledgment of them.
The object of interest is not the new birth. New birth is only the means to an end. The goal is to see personally and graphically the “kingdom of God.” The means to that end is “new birth”. Through physical birth one may personally experience the kingdoms of this earth. Only a birth from above enables one to “see” the kingdom from above. “Born again” does not appear in this passage. Unless one is “born from above”
This theme, as most all of his themes, had already been introduced by John in chapter one. John 1:12 indicated that in order to become children of God one must experience a birth produced by God himself. Jesus draws on four well known illustrations to try to bring Nicodemus from the known to the unknown. Jesus draws on the illustration of birth, an event experienced, if not remembered, by all. Jesus clearly indicates to Nicodemus that just as his birth as an Israelite linked him to the Kingdom of Israel so one must be born of God or born from above in order to experience life as citizen of the Kingdom of God.