Summary: This message attempts to explain the New Birth.
Text: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Does it seem strange to you that Jesus would say, “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”? What does Jesus mean by “born again”? Do these words spoken by Jesus and written in red mean anything to you? Are these words important to us or should they be important to us?
Before we answer these questions, let’s peer deeper into the words of our Scripture reading and find out what led to Jesus saying these words.
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1). Nicodemus was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a group of religious leaders who were well educated and in fact scholarly. The Pharisees were very strict Jews who did not want to be associated with anyone who was not Jewish.
These Pharisees followed the Old Testament laws, rules and traditions very carefully. As the Scripture tells us, Nicodemus was a ruler and he was a member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a ruling body that had power and authority in Jerusalem. Jesus called Nicodemus “…the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10). This was an indication he was well trained in Jewish law and Jewish theology.
Our Scripture reading tells us that Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night. Did you ever wonder why he would go to see Jesus at night? Jesus was in the eye of the public all day long, so why wouldn’t he want to consult Jesus during the day.
Perhaps Nicodemus thought Jesus was so busy teaching and preaching during the day that He would not have time to talk to him. Maybe he thought Jesus’ mission was so important that he did not want to interrupt the Teacher or waste the Teacher’s valuable time.
Could it be that Nicodemus did not want his Jewish friends of the council to know he was interested in what Jesus was teaching? Remember the council or Sanhedrin members did not agree with Jesus or believe His words. Nicodemus was a well educated man with a mind for learning everything he possibly could.
Perhaps Nicodemus came to see Jesus because of the signs and great things he saw Jesus do. Many people did believe in Jesus, but they believed because they witnessed or heard of the many miracles he performed. Scripture tells us, “…many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did” (John 2:23).
Since Jesus knew human nature so well, He knew their belief could be superficial. He even knew in His heart that some of these same people who claimed to know him would be the one’s yelling, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”. Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (17:9).
Since Jesus knows human nature so well, He knows each of us. When everything is going well in the life of people, shouts of joy and acclamation are heard. People seem to be on the same bandwagon, but when events are going opposite of what people like, they are unhappy, resentful, and hateful. In this case, their shouts are of disapproval and condemnation.
It is interesting to note that Nicodemus did not want to hear Jesus’ words second-hand, so he came to Jesus himself. He could have sent someone to see Jesus, but he wanted to see and talk to Jesus personally.
At this particular time, Nicodemus probably did not think Jesus was the Messiah. However, he wanted to find out for himself. He had heard about Him and the signs He performed, but He needed to see and talk to Him personally.
When Nicodemus was in the presence of Jesus, he said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). The word “Rabbi” indicates or signifies someone great, important, wonderful or awesome.
Jesus was all of these and much more. He was a great teacher and He did come from God. He came to be a teacher, but He also came to rule with an unsurpassable truth. Notice that Nicodemus’ words were for him and other people because he said “we know”.
How did Nicodemus and other people know Jesus was a Rabbi and a great teacher? They knew because “…no one else can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (3:2). The Sanhedrin, as powerful as it was, did not have members who could do such signs. Nicodemus couldn’t perform these miracles and signs. No one but Jesus could perform these signs.
Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The words “born again…kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven” were new to Nicodemus and the other people. Nicodemus knew God was in control and He would rule the world, but what about being born again and seeing the kingdom of God?