Summary: A sermon that highlights the need for the new birth.
“The Must of the Master”
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
I. The Message of the New Birth
a. The seeker – He was rich, respected, religious and a ruler. Nicodemus refers to Jesus as “Rabbi” which was an acknowledgment of respect because this word means teacher and he also acknowledges that the blessing of God was on His ministry for God was “with him.” We can only speculate why he choose to come to “Jesus by night.” It is said that the “Rabbi’s” studied at night, or he was afraid of what the Jews might say, or to avoid the crowds or maybe just so their conversations would not be limited. For whatever reason, he is there.
b. The Savior – One of the things that Jesus demonstrates here in this sequence is His omniscience. Listen to what is said in chapter 2:23-25;
John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
The Lord was aware that there were many who were following Him because of the miracles that He performed and Nicodemus seems to have been in that number. He was an admirer but not a true believer.
c. The statement – Notice that Jesus begins this statement with the words “Verily, Verily, I say unto you…”
Barnes: An expression of strong affirmation, denoting the certainty and the importance of what he was about to say.
Clarke: The repetition of amen, or verily, verily, among the Jewish writers, was considered of equal import with the most solemn oath.
Jesus “cut to the chase,” put his finger on this man’s pulse and gave him his unerring prescription for the soul.
Someone asked George Whitfield, “Why do you always preach ‘You must be born again?’ He replied “…because you must….!
II. The Manner of the New Birth
1. It is super natural, not natural
Being born again is not about human efforts (1-2).
If anyone “deserved” eternal life, it would appear that Nicodemus had all of the right qualifications. He seems worthy of eternal life. But this story reminds us that salvation is not about human effort or merit. It is not for sale! We are reminded that:
A. If position could save you then Nicodemus would have been saved.
He was a man of the Pharisees, one of the 70 who comprised the Sanhedrin. In essence, he was a member of the Jewish Supreme Court. The Pharisees were right in many areas of doctrine, but they made one primary mistake: they externalized religion. Outwardly, they lived above reproach. They were considered the religious elite. They went to great lengths to obey not only the law but also the man-made rules of tradition that kept them from breaking the law. Nicodemus was a part of the religious elite. He had a distinguished religious position.
But a certain position does not save you. Being a deacon does not save you. Being a pastor does not save you. Being a SS teacher does not save you. Being a member of the board at non-profit organizations does not save you. Positions do not save. Being born again is not about human efforts. It is not about positions.
B. If popularity could save you then Nicodemus would have been saved.
The name Nicodemus means well liked or popular. Here was a man who was well known and respected in the community. He was popular. He was recognized as a spiritual leader. Mothers pointed to Nicodemus and told their children, “There is a good man. There is a good role model.” He was extremely popular.
But popularity does not save you. Being recognized as a “Christian” person does not save you. Being recognized as a spiritual leader does not save you. Being born again is not about popularity.
C. If prestige could save you then Nicodemus would have been saved.
Jesus identified Nick as “the” ruler of the Jews. He was the one to whom people turned for spiritual answers. He was recognized as the spiritual adviser, the religious guru, the one who spent his life studying the Scriptures. His position was one of spiritual prestige, but he did not possess eternal life. He was “the” man when it came to religious matters but he was not saved. He was not born from above because prestige does not save you.
D. If piety could save you then Nicodemus would have been saved.