"You Must Be Born Again"
Very little is known about Nicodemus other than He was a highly educated, well to do ruler and teacher in the Jewish community who came by night wanting to be taught by Jesus.
Verses 1-2: "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2This 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."
By his later actions we can see that in this encounter he had learned what it meant to be born again. Nicodemus was a changed man with a new understanding of God and himself.
Verse 3: "Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Jesus speaks literally of being born again from above, that is, from God. When one is born again they receive Christ into their very being. The Holy Spirit which is a part of God, enters in, whereupon they become a Child of God.
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?"
Here Nicodemus seems to be ridiculing Jesus words, and even rejecting the idea that being born again was possible or even necessary.
Verse 5: "Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
The water: Volumes can and have been written, still opinions vary concerning exactly what John meant by being" born of water," The Hebrews used terms such as "water" in describing natural birth, and in cleansing, there was a Jewish immersion for cleansing, in fact, the Jews had many cleansing rituals, but Nicodemus would have understood any of these.
One thing is certain, water alone cannot wash away our sins, only the blood of Jesus and what He did on the cross.
Nicodemus does not seem to have a problem with the term "born of water," but of being "born again of the Spirit.
The "Spirit:" So again, to be born of the Spirit is to verbally invite Jesus into our very being in faith, wherein the Holy Spirit of God enters in and becomes a part of us.
What I believe concerning the meaning of the "water and the Spirit:" is to be born again by the Spirit, then as a way to confirm and signify that rebirth, one is baptized in water in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. This baptism is known as the Christian Baptism.
Verse 6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
God is three persons in One: God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Nicodemus, like most of us, understood what it meant to be born in the flesh. He was now receiving a message from the Master on what it meant to be born of the Spirit.
The following verses record how Jesus helped Nicodemus to believe and understand the new birth.
Verses 7-8: "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Th Holy Spirit works in us in ways we can not see or understand. While we can certainly understand the part where we ask Him into our lives and Become a Child of God, receiving the Spirit cannot be seen; nevertheless, like the powerful wind, though invisible, it's existence is undeniable!
Verses 9-10: "Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?"
Nicodemus knew the law thoroughly and was a teacher of the Bible, yet could not grasp it's message about the Messiah. It's not enough to know what the bible say's, we must have a personal encounter with God!
So it is with the natural man who insists on comprehending the things of God, it is by faith only. God's wisdom is far above our own. Man cannot reason on God's level nor comprehend the why and wherefore of His plans and ways.
Verses 11-12: "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
Only an eyewitness of heaven could fully testify about heaven, and here Jesus begins to testify of them to Nicodemus.
Verse 13: "No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man."
Here Jesus claims to be God's messenger who descended out of Heaven and became a man.
Verse 14-15: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
"Lifted up:" A bronze serpent in the wilderness was placed on a tall pole so that the people who had sinned could look upon the serpent on the pole, and live (Num 21:7-9)
Like the bronze serpent, Jesus was placed on a cross made of poles to die for the sins of the world. All who believe, ask, and look to Him will receive eternal life.
For God So Loved the World
Verse 16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
(This beautifully written verse say's it all so clearly!)
Eternal life literally means "life of the world to come." John's present tense "have" indicates that those who trust in Jesus begin to experience that life already in the present time. (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
Verse 17: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
The leaders of Israel were expecting a Messiah who would drive the Romans our of their country and place all countries other than Israel under judgment; but John said God had not sent Jesus to condemn, but to save the whole world.
Verse 18: "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
Faith in Jesus will deliver the believer from eternal condemnation. The unbeliever, however, is under total condemnation because of his rejection of the only way to reach heaven, Faith in Jesus.
Verse 19: "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil."
Although Jesus had not come to condemn the world we see in this verse a pronounced ongoing self induced judgment. Jesus is the light of the world, the fate of each individual rest upon the decision to either accept or reject that Light.
And Verse 20 say's:
Verse 20: "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed."
Light and Darkness has always been associated with good and evil.
Wicked people fear the Light that illuminates darkness and because of the discomfort of their condemned conscience stay as far as possible away from any study or discussion of God's word.
Verse 21: "But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."
The person with the honest and good heart loves the truth, desires to walk uprightly, and wants to know God's will. Rather than avoiding he seeks the light and shuns the works of darkness.
Jesus chose to use His discussion with Nicodemus to bring these great truths to the world. There is only one way to reach Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. In order to become a Child of God and enter Heaven one must be born again.