Summary: Apart from faith in Christ, we are unable to live a life of righteousness…bringing to fruition the Kingdom of God. Jesus reveals this truth to Nicodemus.
Introduction: Most of us…especially us men…don’t like to admit it when we can’t accomplish something. This doesn’t apply to everything, but it certainly does apply to some things…especially those things that we believe we can do. Perhaps we have trained our whole lives to do something. Run a marathon, play the guitar, write a book, etc. Maybe it’s something we have made our life’s work and we have devoted ourselves to it; in my case preparing and presenting a sermon. And when we have given so much of ourselves to a task at hand and when we have dedicated ourselves to it and we have worked at it and we have sacrificed and struggled and poured ourselves into it…only to discover that we really can’t do it very well…we have a hard time admitting that.
We have a hard time humbling ourselves and recognizing that we can’t do it on our own and that we need to have someone else come along side us and help us. This is especially true when the person who comes along side us and “does it better” is untrained.
It’s a difficult thing to acknowledge that we’re unable to do what we’ve poured ourselves into without the help of another. That’s the very situation Nicodemus finds himself in as he talks to Jesus late one night.
We’re continuing our compelling portrait series today and we’re going to be in the book of John once again. Open your Bibles to John chapter 3. We’re looking at this compelling portrait of Jesus…this picture of what He was really like and we’re holding that picture up and then we’re looking in the mirror at ourselves and we’re seeing where we need to be remade so that we match the image of Christ in how we live our lives.
Today we’re going focus less on what Jesus did, although that too is important, and more on what he taught. There is a lot to unpack today so lets jump in and get started right away. Let me read our passage, John 3:1-15 and then we’ll begin pealing back the layers and exploring just exactly what it is that John is revealing to us about Christ in this passage.
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, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
"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!"
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ’You must be born again.’ 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."
"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
"You are Israel’s teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 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. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
I cannot fully express just how much this passage is packed with truth that can and will transform our lives. But to begin to understand that truth, we have to have a good understanding of some key concepts that are present in this story.
NICODEMUS – A PHARISEE: The first thing we need to take a look at is who and what Nicodemus was. John tells us that, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.
Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. He was a man of influence and authority. And, we are told, he was a Pharisee. Who were the Pharisees?
The Pharisees were kind of a hybrid between religious leaders and a political party. They came into existence in response to external attacks on the Jewish faith from the Greeks and the Romans.