Summary: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and if we commit ourselves to Him, He will give us eternal life. But also, in addition, by committing ourselves to Him, He will empower us with His Holy Spirit to equip us for this life here on earth.
So we are reading from John’s Gospel, chapter 3, verses 1-20, Christ’s encounter with a man named Nicodemus. Benjamin Franklin was a great statesman and inventor, but he was also a great correspondent. He wrote and received letters from famous people from all over the world. One day he received what could well have been the most important letter ever to come to his desk. It was from the well-known preacher George Whitefield. “I find that you grow more and more famous in the learned world” Whitefield wrote. “As you have made such progress in investigating the mysteries of electricity, I now humbly urge you to give diligent heed to the mystery of the New Birth. It is a most important and interesting study and, when mastered, will richly repay you for your pains.” We read of the New Birth in the third chapter of John.
Nicodemus was originally attracted to Jesus because of the miracles he preformed. He wanted to know more about Jesus and the doctrines that he taught. Nicodemus himself was the teacher of the Jews, a well trained, highly educated Jewish man with a high moral character and a thirst for knowledge. He was one of the esteemed Pharisees which meant he lived by the strictest possible religious rules. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin represented the ruling body of the Jews in Palestine. It was the Jewish Supreme Court or ruling council made up of the High Priest, or president, chief priests, Elders who were family heads and scribes for a total of 71 people. It executed both civil and criminal jurisdiction according to the Jewish law, however, capital punishment cases required the sanction of the Roman procurator. Does this body sound familiar to you? It should. They obviously play a big part leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth. There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “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.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The phrase ‘born again’ literally means “born from above” or “becoming children of God.” Jesus answered a question that Nicodemus does not even ask. He read Nicodemus’s heart and came to the very core of the problem, the need for spiritual transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through one phrase, Jesus is addressing the difference in being religious, relying on works and rituals, vs. a simple act of accepting that Christ is the Son of God.
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Because Nicodemus was a teacher himself, he understood the rabbinical method of using figurative language to teach spiritual truth, and he was picking up on Jesus’ symbolism.