Summary: You must be born again.
WHAT MUST I DO? YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN
Big Idea: You must be born again.
• 2 Cor. 5:14-17
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 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."3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. " 4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." 9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. 10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
It happened at night. It seems to happen at night all too frequently. Night gives way to silence … to stillness … which then gives way too much time to think … and to feel. It’s at night that we fight with self-doubt. It’s at night that the “what if” gremlins whisper in our ear. It’s at night that fear settles in. It’s at night that guilt and shame drag us into their torture chamber. Monsters, it proves to be true, do live in the dark!
There’s a reason that bars are filled at night. There’s a reason suicide rates climb at night. There’s a reason psychic hotlines and spiritual prayer hotlines peak at night. And there was a reason Nicodemus sought Jesus out at night. We don’t know what was haunting Nicodemus – doesn’t matter really – but we do know that he shows us what we should do when the night settles in on us. He’s very clear about why he came to Jesus. “He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God …” (v. 2). Nicodemus was looking for answers or help and he knew God was the place to find them.
It’s interesting to me that Jesus does not give Nicodemus time to go much further. Jesus knew that Nicodemus’ needs had collided with the stillness of the night and brought this private session. It’s almost as if Jesus cuts him off mid-thought; he interrupts and goes straight to the core of Nicodemus’ problem. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again … you MUST be born again” (vv. 3 & 7).
Nicodemus was haunted by something. He was hoping Jesus could give him some relief … maybe a word of encouragement or a simple key to peace. But Jesus sees the real need and gives the real answer ... enough of the secrecy ... he comes out with it. “You MUST be born again.”