(This message may be used as an individual sermon or as part of the series.)
JOHN 3:1-12 – NIGHT TALK
LIFE OF CHRIST #11 of 61
Night time is a dark time.
Night time is a quiet time.
It is easier to do something secretive at night.
It is easier to do something illegal at night.
It is easier to do something private and/or personal at night.
In the Bible there was a man named Nicodemus, “Nick”, if you will, who came to Jesus at night. Hence, I have borrowed a phrase from the Nickelodeon Television channel to name this message, “Nick at Night”.
An important discussion took place between Nicodemus and Jesus under the quite protection of the night. This discussion had great implications for Nicodemus and for us as well.
NICODEMUS WAS SEARCHING – Vss. 1-2
Vs. 1 – John introduces us to the other principle character in this narrative, Nicodemus. This one verse tells us much about Him.
- First of all, he was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a group within Israel that stood for a literal interpretation of the Bible. They did believe that the Bible was literally the Word of God. They did believe in the resurrection of the dead. They did believe in literally obeying all the laws in the Bible. Unfortunately, this led to them becoming very legalistic, and thinking that they could earn their way to Heaven through good works.
We can conclude that because Nicodemus was a Pharisee, he was very religious.
- It is possible that Nicodemus had some Greek connections in his life. His name is actually a Greek name and means ‘one who conquers the people’.
- Nicodemus was also a ruler in Israel. There was a ruling body called the Sanhedran that was responsible for the most important decisions made about religious life in Israel. It was their council.
- According to Verse 10, Nicodemus might have been the leading religious teacher of His day. He, like Jesus, would have been considered a Rabbi.
Vs. 2 – As we already stated, Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus at night? We don’t know why, but there are a few possibilities.
- Perhaps, Nicodemus, being a religious leader, did not want others to know that he was seeking counsel from this upstart young Rabbi.
- Perhaps Nicodemus was afraid of the criticism of others.
- The question Nicodemus asked was a personal question. Perhaps He didn’t want others to hear what he was asking.
- Or Nicodemus could have come at night because Jesus was too busy for a private interview during the day.
The most important thing was that Nicodemus did come to Jesus for help.
Nicodemus pays Jesus a compliment.
Nicodemus sees Jesus as a teacher from God, because Jesus was working miracles. Nicodemus knew that the Jesus could only do the great miracles that He did if God was with Him.
What was Nicodemus searching for?
I believe that Nicodemus was searching for the way to eternal life.
Jesus’ answer to Him in verse 3 would indicate that this was the case.
Nicodemus’ question was similar to that of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
In spite of all Nicodemus’ religion, Nicodemus evidently, like that rich young ruler knew he was lacking something. For all of Nicodemus’ efforts as a Pharisee who tried to keep the Law of God, Nicodemus must have realized that he was falling short of God’s perfect standard of righteousness.
Nicodemus was trying to get to Heaven by performing good works, and I think that he sensed that he just wasn’t cutting it.
JESUS WAS DEFINITE – Vs. 3
Vs. 3 – Before Nicodemus asks the question, Jesus has the answer. Jesus tells Nicodemus that a man can not expect to see the Kingdom of God, unless he is “born again”.
A few years ago the term “born again” was very popular. But just claiming to be born again does not make one prepared for Heaven or truly a child of God.
What does the term “born again” mean? It means to be “born anew” or “born from above”.
The new birth is something radical.
The new birth is something different.
Just as your first birth came from God, He is creator of all things; your second birth must come from God, from above.
In your first birth, you were born a sinner. You shortly thereafter became a sinner by practice as well as a sinner by birth.
Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us how bad off we are before we are born again.
Now when a person is “born again” a change takes place.
There is a whole new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Jesus is definite. We must be born again.
NICODEMUS WAS STUMPED – Vs. 4
Vs. 4 – I believe that Nicodemus understood that Jesus was using an illustration. I don’t think Nicodemus expected to literally go back into his mother’s womb.
I think Nicodemus was asking, “You say everything has to be new; that there needs to be a new birth.
How can all things be new?
How can I change who I am?
Can I crawl back inside my Mamma and start again?
“How can I start over?”
Nicodemus knew that he needed something different.
He just didn’t know how to get it!
JESUS WAS DESCRIPTIVE – Vss. 5-8
Vs. 5 – Jesus now describes for Nicodemus how a person must be born-again. He must be born of water and of the Spirit.
There has been much discussion about what it means to be born “of water”. I have changed my opinion on what it means a time or two. The following explanation makes the most sense to me.
At the time of this discussion, both John and Jesus’ disciples were baptizing. They were using water. And the water was a symbol of repentance. Matthew 3:1-2, 5-8
So, to be born again, there needs to be repentance.
Repentance is a change of mind.
There needs to be a change of mind in order to be saved.
You need to change your mind about liking or tolerating your sinful life.
You need to change your mind about how you are going to get to Heaven. Trying to get to Heaven using any form of self-effort like being good, keeping the Ten Commandments or being a church member or attending church will not get you there. Ephesians 2:9 tells us that salvation, getting to Heaven, is Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Repentance involves turning away from anything else and turning to Christ. That’s being born of water.
To be born of the Spirit means that the Spirit of God does a radical work in your life. He gives you regeneration, or a new birth. God does a number on you! He gives you new life. It is a supernatural thing.
So, how is one “born of the Spirit”?
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus to earth to die for your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:21
The person who puts their total trust, belief in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life has it. When one truly makes this decision to trust Christ alone, repenting of trying to get to Heaven any other way, He or she is born again! John 1:12-13
Born of water – repentance
Born of the Spirit – belief in Jesus Christ for Salvation
Vs. 6 – Jesus gives further explanation.
What is born of flesh is flesh. What is born of Spirit is spirit.
You and I were born in the flesh, as sinners. All we will ever be in the flesh is sinners.
But to accomplish that which is Spiritual, that which is victorious, that which gives new life, we must be born of the Spirit. What is born of the Spirit brings spiritual results.
Vs. 7 – Jesus says, “Don’t be surprised that you must be born again.”
And notice that word “must”. It is not an option to take or leave. To see the Kingdom of God, to go to Heaven, you must be born again.
Vs. 8 – Jesus gives one more illustration.
The wind blows wherever it wants.
We can hear the sound of the wind.
We can actually feel the wind.
We can see what blows around.
But we can’t actually see the wind.
And we don’t know where the wind has been or where it’s going.
We can see and hear the effects of the wind, even though we can’t see the wind.
Being born of the Spirit is the same way. We can not see the Spirit in a person’s life, but we can see the effects of the Spirit in that life.
A person truly born of the Spirit is a person changed.
A person truly born of the Spirit will show it by the effect that the Spirit has on the life.
NICODEMUS WAS SURPRISED – Vs. 9
Vs. 9 – Nicodemus didn’t get it. It seemed to be beyond him.
And so it is with people who have never been born again.
They can’t understand it, because it is a matter of the Spirit and they are operating in the flesh!
1 Corinthians 2:14
JESUS WAS DEMANDING – Vss. 10-12
Vs. 10 – The implication here is that Nicodemus is one of the principle teachers in Israel. He should have been able to grasp the whole concept of salvation by faith through the Old Testament Scriptures.
Vs. 11 – Jesus is saying, “I told you the truth and you won’t believe it.”
I wonder if some of you are in that same boat.
We, meaning me and other pastors, have told you the truth, but you haven’t believed it.
Vs. 12 – Jesus was explaining things with earthly illustrations and Nicodemus didn’t get it.
Nicodemus would not be able to handle Spiritual things.
Don’t expect to understand the Spiritual things of God until you have been born again, of the Spirit!
So what about you?
Are you lost and confused like Nicodemus, or have you been born again through repentance, belief and by the Spirit of God?