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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Nicodemus - John 3

         Jesus will use Older Testament scripture to teach Nicodemus, the Jewish teacher, Pharisee and member of the ruling Sanhedrin Council. He was rich, educated and an honored teacher of the Older Testament. As a teacher of the Older Testament Word, Nicodemus would be familiar with this event in Numbers 21:4-9. Jesus will compare this event to Himself.

       The whole Truth could not be known until Jesus because He is the whole of Truth. God revealed his plan of salvation and deliverance through His Son Jesus in types and shadows in the Older Testament. Moses and the serpent on the pole are a foreshadowing of what Jesus will do.

         The Pharisees took pride in their “good deeds” and “good life.” This isn’t enough! Only the blood of Jesus can save us from our sin. The pride of these religious leaders hindered their search for the truth.
         For a renowned teacher like Nicodemus to approach Jesus, an unknown teacher, would make him subject to ridicule and criticism by the other rabbis and religious rulers. Because of this, Nicodemus went to Jesus in darkness. We all come to Jesus in the darkness of sin.
       When the Sanhedrin Council discussed Jesus, Nicodemus suggested caution. Most Jewish priests and rulers hated Jesus but Nicodemus had studied the Older Testament prophecies regarding Messiah and thought that Jesus just might be the One the prophesies spoke of.  If Jesus was a prophet sent by God, Nicodemus warned that it would be disastrous to reject God’s messenger.
         Nicodemus went to the Mount of Olives to find Jesus. The Mount of Olives is where Jesus many times went to commune with the Lord and His disciples. Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you must have been sent by God, because no one can do the miracles you do unless God is with him.” Note that Nicodemus didn’t refer to Jesus as Messiah, but teacher. Jesus didn’t respond to Nicodemus’ statement. Instead, Jesus, who is all-knowing looked at Nicodemus’ heart and saw that he was sincerely looking for truth, so Jesus spoke truth to him.

Born Again

          Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless one is born again, he cannot be in God’s kingdom.” V3  In essence, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he needs a new heart and a new life from above. The New Birth is a spiritual one. Nicodemus needs to be born spiritually from above through Jesus and the Holy Spirit before he can fully understand the spiritual realm. Jeremiah had prophesied that God would give His people a new heart, and Ezekiel said that God would give His people Israel a new heart, and a new Spirit. (see Jeremiah 29:13; 32:39-41; Exekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:26) Our human hearts are naturally evil, and there is no human cure for this. Only a spiritual cure can change our condition.

           Notice that Jesus started His responses to Nicodemus with “I tell you the truth.”  Jesus is the Truth, so He speaks pure Truth. He came from the spiritual realm so He can speak of what He knows and has seen in the spiritual realm.
           Jesus and the Holy Spirit are working on Nicodemus’ heart, but he doesn’t know it yet. It is the Holy Spirit that gives spiritual birth to our spirit. God is Spirit, so in order to enter the Kingdom of God, our spirit must be united to God’s Holy Spirit and Son. And, because God is Spirit, we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Without new birth in Christ and the Holy Spirit, one cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is spiritual. Jesus and the Holy Spirit paved a way to come into the presence of God for a prepared people. 
         Nicodemus, who is looking with natural eyes, asks Jesus a question. “How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born.” V4 Again, Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, unless one is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter God’s kingdom.” V5 We are born naturally through the water and blood of our mother’s womb. We are born spiritually through the water of the Word/Jesus and His blood that flowed out of the wound in His side on the cross. Our mother labors for our natural birth, but Jesus labored on the cross for our spiritual, eternal birth.
        Every Jew and Gentile must be washed by water cleansing of all their past sins and be born again through the blood of Jesus and the water of the Word and Holy Spirit. The life of our physical body is in the blood and water. The life of our spiritual body is in the blood of Jesus and the water of the Anointed Word – Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and Word will transition us from our life of sin to a new life of loving obedience to the Godhead and His Word.
         It is impossible for one who is not born of the Spirit to understand the fullness of Truth (Jesus).  Nicodemus didn’t understand Jesus’ words of truth but he is seeking the truth. Jesus will continue to teach him. By one Spirit, we are baptized into one Body—whether Jew or Gentile. (see 1 Corinthians 12:13) The power of the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will bring us to the knowledge of the Truth and will help us grow spiritually. Our desire will be to love and please God and avoid and defeat evil within and without. The Kingdom of God is where God’s will is done completely and perfectly. Citizens of God’s Kingdom will be willingly submitted to Him and be willingly obedient to God and His will.
          Jesus and the Holy Spirit must take possession of our hearts and minds. Because the written Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit helps us know and understand the Word. Jesus promised His disciples that the Spirit of Truth – Holy Spirit – would:

·         Dwell with us and within us – John 14:17
                              ·         Will testify of Christ – John 15:26
                              ·         Guide us into all Truth – John 16:13
(to be continued)

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