Summary: Nicodemus needed to know, as we all do, that salvation is God's work on the inside. You must be born again.
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus 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.” 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.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?”
At the place I go to work out I have seen a truck. I don’t know whose truck it is; indeed, it may not even belong to any of the various people who come and go during the time I work out as there are several other public offices in the same building, and the truck may belong to someone who works in one of those offices.
But it is not the truck itself that concerns me. It is not the fact of the truck or where it is parked or anything else about the truck, except for the bumper sticker that is on the rear bumper of the truck. It says,
‘BORN OK THE FIRST TIME’
It is obviously a snide counter remark aimed at anyone who might want to tell this person they must be ‘born again’ in the sense that Jesus said it to Nicodemus in our text today.
It might even be there because someone in this person’s life – perhaps even a family member – has been persistent in telling them the Gospel and they don’t want to hear it any more.
Now why should that concern me?
Well, besides feeling sympathy-embarrassment for the guy because I know that he’s driving around town displaying his ignorance on his very own truck, there is the knowledge that he was not born ok the first time, and the knowledge that if he is so intimidated by the truth that he wants to discourage anyone from telling him the truth by using this bumper sticker as a sort of preventive measure [a preemptive strike, if you will], then chances are unfortunately very high that he will leave this world and enter directly into an eternity of Hell, realizing only then that he was not born ok at all.
Now just in case anyone is wondering why I am saying ‘he’ and ‘his’ and ‘the guy’ even though I don’t know whose truck it is, the reason should be fairly obvious; most women are too smart to put stupid bumper stickers on their vehicles. That’s a knuckle-dragging ‘thing’ we men reserve for ourselves.
But yes, it is a concern, and it should be something that causes concern in every true follower of Jesus Christ. Because you see, as brazen as this person is, in actually announcing on the back of his (or her) vehicle – in so many words – that they think they are fine and they don’t want to hear any ‘born again’ nonsense from you or from me or from Jesus Himself, that is really the heart-attitude, and usually an unspoken heart-attitude of very many people in our world. In fact, it is the heart-attitude of unbelief itself.
Now here is why I spent this time and energy to say all of this in beginning today. This is the attitude of the heart that exists in every religious person, and the more conscientious they are about following the precepts of their religion and holding to the tenants of their religion and practicing the rituals of their religion, the more deeply engrained is the attitude that they are ‘ok’.
This is the attitude, I say, of all religious people, and it was especially true of the sect of the Pharisees of Biblical times, and it was almost certainly the lifeline that Nicodemus clung to even while he came to the camp of Jesus and company at night as a sort of investigative reporter for the Jerusalem Sanhedrin.