Summary: This is the 4th sermon in a series of messages taken from John’s gospel. From Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, we notice unasked questions Jesus answered.
John’s Gospel #4 Unasked Questions
CHCC: January 27, 2008
John 3:16 is the central truth of life captured in 25 simple words. Jesus made this statement to a man who came to see Him late one night. Look at the beginning of John chapter 3: Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He 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." In reply Jesus declared, John 3:1-3
Let’s stop right there for just a minute. In reply, Jesus said… In reply to what? Nicodemus hadn’t asked a question. All Nicodemus did so far was kind of smooth-talk Jesus. He used the respectful title of Rabbi and he said, of course, God MUST be with you or you couldn’t do these miracles we’ve seen you doing.
But Jesus cut through all the fluff and answered the question Nicodemus didn’t even know he needed to ask. In reply Jesus declared, … "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
Nicodemus hadn’t asked, What do I need to do in order to be part of Your Kingdom? But Jesus knew this was the answer he needed.
1. What do I need?
Nicodemus didn’t know he NEEDED to change anything in order to please God. Of all people, he thought he was already doing what God required. He was a member of the Sanhedrin --- an elite group of 70 men who ruled the Jewish nation in religious matters. He had given his life to studying God’s Word. He knew and followed the laws of Moses and the traditions of Jewish Rabbis. Nicodemus was highly respected by the religious Jews. He had it all: religious status, wealth, and great influence.
So why did Nic come to see Jesus in the dead of night? (His friends probably called him Nic, so that’s what we’ll do, too.) I think Nic was curious about Jesus. More than that, I believe he was drawn to Jesus in some way he didn’t fully understand.
Perhaps Nic wanted to figure out what it was about Jesus that seemed so unique. Maybe he thought he could use his influence to help Jesus. At any rate, he probably thought Jesus would be grateful to have his help … and maybe this young carpenter from Nazareth would be a little in awe of him.
But Jesus knew that Nic was the one who stood in need of help. All the things Nic thought gave him good-standing with God were worthless. Underneath Nic’s smooth, confident exterior, Jesus saw a man who desperately needed help. And Jesus told him, Here is the honest truth. NO ONE --- not even someone as moral and religious as you --- can see the kingdom of God unless He is born again.
I heard a modern story that reminds me of Nic. In an autobiography of Billy Graham called Just As I Am, he tells about attending an event in Warsaw where Catholics and Protestants joined together. He says,“I sat beside a monsignor who told me about his own spiritual background.”
The monsignor told Billy Graham that years before, he had been in Chicago riding a bus. He was surprised when he felt a tap him on his shoulder. When he turned, the black lady sitting behind him demanded, “Sir, have you been born again?” He looked down at his religious robes, then back at her and sputtered, “I’m a priest, Ma’am!” The lady wasn’t fazed. “That’s not what I asked,” she boomed. “I asked, Have you been born again?”
When the priest got back to his residence he couldn’t get this question out of his mind. He said he got out his Bible and read the passage where Jesus told Nicodemus you must be born again. After reading John 3 several times with new eyes, the priest knelt and prayed a new kind of prayer.
Billy Graham wrote, “He said he didn’t know what to call that incident – recommitment, rededication, or new birth --- but for him it was the beginning of a new relationship with God.” (p.487)
So many people count on making it to Heaven based on their own morality or religiosity. They think they can purchase a priceless treasure with a fist full of counterfeit bills. Even the best of us --- a Polish Monsignor, Billy Graham, … or Nicodemus --- no one has what it takes to pay his or her own way.
When Jesus told Nic You must be born again, Nic lost his smooth veneer. He blurted out, "How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!" John 3:4