16
May
2018

JOHN 3:1-6 NICODEMUS IS TOLD BY JESUS, YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN

John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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." 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 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?" 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

 In this powerful section of Scripture we will hear Nicodemus ask a question and Jesus will get to the heart of the matter of what is really needed by answering a question that was not asked.  We will also see what it really means to be born again; does it take baptism as some say (referring to the comment about being born of the water), communion, good works, keeping the commandments, joining a church?  No, so just how does one become born again?  Take a listen and you will find out what Jesus who is God in human flesh has to say.  For He is the one who really knows, since He is the one who created every single thing that has ever been created.

 The need for the new birth

John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Because he was a Pharisee? Did that make him a ruler…A member of the Sanhedrin?

By his words, we can see that Nicodemus has a great respect for Jesus. Nicodemus calls Jesus “Rabbi.” No doubt this is the same title many used to address him, for he was a teacher of the law as well. He further refers to Jesus as “a teacher come from God.”

verse 2, This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know (why 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." why did he come by night? What does God is with him mean to a Pharisee? Didn’t really ask a question, made a statement

Has Nicodemus come as the official spokesman for the Pharisees? It is certainly possible, but it just does not seem to be the Pharisees’ style to act in such a secretive manner. In the cases above (John 1:19-25; Luke 5:17), the Pharisees make their moves very publicly, almost as though they intend to be seen. They wanted to be viewed as the accrediting agency for all those who taught the law.

I am inclined to think that Nicodemus is acting independently, without the sanction of the Pharisees. Why “we” then? Because Nicodemus is still a Pharisee, a member (and even a leader) of their organization. He thinks in terms of this system; his observations and preliminary conclusions are drawn as a Pharisee. When Nicodemus says “we,” this should suggest to us that at this point in his life, Nicodemus is still 100% Pharisee. Not until Nicodemus recognizes the failure of Pharisaism and renounces his faith in this religious system will he cast himself on Jesus alone for salvation. This is precisely what our Lord’s response is all about. Jesus seeks to show Nicodemus that his system of religion does not, and cannot, save anyone.

The “we” could also include the Jews more generally.

      Before we move to our Lord’s response, we should observe that Nicodemus is partly correct in his assessment of Jesus. Jesus is a “teacher come from God,” and God is “with Him” (verse 2). What Nicodemus does not know is that his words are even truer than he realizes. Jesus is literally a “teacher come from God.” He has come down to earth from the Father. And God is “with Him.” But Jesus is much greater than Nicodemus ever imagined at this moment in time. He is God, and He manifests the power of God in His teaching and working of signs. It will be some time yet before Nicodemus realizes the full truth of what he has just said. What he hears next catches him completely off guard.

The conversation which Nicodemus initiates, let us remember that Jesus is the focus. Nicodemus has not come to talk about himself or about Pharisaism. He has come to find out about Jesus, His message, and His relationship to God. What does Jesus have to say for Himself? Nicodemus opens the door by assuring Jesus that he sees Him as a man with a mission and a message from God. It is a perfect opener for Jesus. All He has to do is pick up from here and tell Nicodemus what His mission is. It doesn’t turn out at all as Nicodemus may have expected.

Our Lord’s words will stun Nicodemus. He begins by indicating to Nicodemus that the words He is about to speak convey a most solemn truth. He uses an expression unique to this Gospel, which in the King James Version is rendered, “Verily, verily …” Leon Morris sums up the impact of our Lord’s few words:

Then in one sentence He sweeps away all that Nicodemus stood for, and demands that he be re-made by the power of God.

Nicodemus’ brand of Judaism did not know anything of re-birth.  Quite frankly, the Pharisees thought one birth of the “right kind” was quite enough.

Matthew 3:7-10 7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit worthy of repentance! 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ because I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 10 Even now the ax is ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”

Vs 2 signs you do, vs 3 I say to You

cannot Understand and see the things of God 1Co 2:14

V 3, Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he (why not You are uses third person) cannot see the kingdom of God." what does it mean he cannot see the kingdom? What is the kingdom?

Too many Jews, to be born a Jew was to be born into the kingdom of God. We know the Jews also believed that Gentiles are born “lost.” Even the Jerusalem church leaders had to be forcefully convinced that God had purposed the salvation of Gentiles (see Acts 10; 11:15-18), and even then, the practice of many Jewish believers did not match their profession (see Acts 11:19). Paul, likewise, hit hard at this point. All Israelites are not true Israelites (Romans 9:6). Those who trust in the atoning work of Jesus Christ for salvation are true Israelites, whether their racial origins are Jewish or Gentile (see Galatians 3:28; 6:16).

Imagine the shocked look on the face of Nicodemus when Jesus tells him that his natural birth (as a Jew) will not save him, and that he must be reborn from above. The implication is clear: Unless Nicodemus is reborn from above, he will not see the kingdom of God. Here is a man who thinks he has reserved seats on the 50 yard line of heaven. Jesus tells him that he is not even going to get into heaven as he is. He first must be born again, from above.

He cannot dunamai <dunamai> ou <ou> see eidw <eido> the kingdom basileia <basileia> of God. yeov <theos>

Verse 4 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?"  Takes things too literally because he is a Pharisee?  Phylacteries, etc.

Nicodemus chooses to understand Jesus’ words literally, so that he assumes the expression “reborn from above” must refer to some kind of literal re-birth.

  1. The Nature of the New Birth or What It Means to Be Reborn From Above (3:5-8)

Verse 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one (why not You are uses third person) is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What does it mean born of the water and spirit Joh 1:13; Ga 6:15; Tit 3:5; Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; 1Jo 3:9

The support for interpreting “water” in this way is less than compelling. Neither do I find it necessary for Jesus to argue the need for both physical birth and spiritual birth.

I am inclined to understand the terms “water” and “spirit” as one expression, “water and spirit,” which together refer to spiritual rebirth. There are several Old Testament texts which seem to justify the conclusion that both “water” and “spirit” refer to one’s spiritual rebirth:

3 “’For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring; 4 They will spring up among the grass Like willows by the watercourses.’ 5 One will say, ‘I am the LORD’s’; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ And name himself by the name of Israel” (Isaiah 44:3-5, NKJV).

24 “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:24-27, NKJV).

This work of regeneration, is also described in the Old Testament as the work of the “wind”:

9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army (Ezekiel 37:9-10, NKJV).

The New Testament describes God’s work of salvation as the “washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit”:

3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But “when the kindness of God our Savior appeared and his love for mankind, 5 He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).

James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does

John 3:6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Why capitalize the first Spirit, but not the second one