"You Must Be Born Again"
Very little is known about Nicodemus, except that 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."
His later actions indicate that, in His encounter with Jesus, 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."
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 have been written. Still, opinions vary concerning precisely what John meant by, "born of water."
The Hebrews used terms such as "water" in describing natural childbirth, and there was a Jewish immersion for cleansing. In fact, the Jews had many cleansing rituals, but Nicodemus would have understood any of these.
Also, in the associated Scripture, Nicodemus does not seem to have a problem with the term, "Born of water," but of being "born again of the Spirit."
Here, and throughout the New Testament, the New Believer is instructed, and even perhaps commanded, to be baptized in water.
Water Baptism is a part of the born again experience, but it alone cannot wash away our sins, that is only possible through the blood of Jesus, and what He did on the cross.
The "Spirit: To be born again of the Spirit is to invite Jesus into one's being verbally. The Holy Spirit of God then enters and abides within the Believer.
Water baptism: Is to confirm, and signify that rebirth. The New Believer 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 the meaning of being born in the flesh. He was now receiving a message from the Master on what it meant to be born again of the Spirit.
We will see in the following verses 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."
The Holy Spirit works in us in ways we cannot 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 a mighty wind, its 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 the born-again message. It is not enough to know what the Bible say's, we must have a personal encounter with Jesus, and this was Nicodemus' day.
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 witness 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."
"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 be born again and 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."
John 3:16 is one of the most well known and loved verses in the Bible. This beautifully written Scripture says it all so clearly.
This Scripture has been the basis for entire ministries and countless sermons. For many, it represents the most accurate concept for the plan of salvation of any single verse in the Bible.
Eternal life means, "Life of the world to come." John's present tense, "have" indicates that those who trust in Jesus have begun 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 out of their country and place all peoples, other than Israel, under judgment; but John said that 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 punishment. The unbeliever, however, is under total condemnation because of his rejection of the only way to reach heaven, and that is 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."
Since Jesus had not come to condemn the world, we see this verse as a self-induced judgment. Jesus is the light of the world, the fate of each 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 dark have 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. To become a Child of God and enter Heaven, one must be born again.