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Saturday, September 4, 2021

Nicodemus -- John 3 -- New Birth

Jesus had transformed water into new wine illustrating His transforming power. Then He cleansed His Father’s house – the temple. Next Jesus will teach Nicodemus about “new birth.”

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin Council who had jurisdiction over religious matters. Nicodemus was rich, educated and an honored teacher of the Older Testament scriptures. Something about Jesus and His words and miracles made Nicodemus want to hear more. In an abundance of caution, Nicodemus goes to Jesus at night (in darkness). If his fellow Pharisees saw him, they would ridicule Nicodemus because they had nothing to do with Jesus. They felt Jesus was a threat to their power and position. So, to avoid interrogation and judgment from them, Nicodemus came to the Light of the world Jesus in darkness. All humans come to Jesus in the darkness of sin. Given Nicodemus’ background and position, it was a miracle that he came to Jesus at all. Nicodemus will have a one-on-one conversation with Jesus.

In the beginning, Nicodemus saw Jesus as a teacher/rabbi. He said to Jesus, “Rabbi (teacher), 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.” John 3:2 Nicodemus called Jesus “teacher” not Lord. Nicodemus and the Pharisees recognized that Christ’s miracles and words came from God, but the others resented Jesus because He was saying things contrary to their beliefs. Their status was being threatened. To the Pharisees, the Law was the most sacred thing. Jesus, however, has piqued the interest of Nicodemus.

Jesus replies to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 4:3 Jesus only speaks truth because He is Truth as the Word of God brought to life. The flesh cannot see and understand the things of God without the Holy Spirit. God is Spirit and holy. In order to see and know spiritual matters, we need the Holy Spirit of God. In the “natural,” we are born from the labor and suffering of our mother and the water and blood that flowed from our mother’s womb. The love of our mother gave us life. Spiritually, we are born out of the water and blood that flowed from Jesus’ side on the cross and His love and willingness to die for our sins so we can be restored to our Heavenly Father. The cross of suffering was the greatest display of God’s love the world will ever see.

In our natural birth, we are born in sin because of the sin of the first man and woman. When Adam and the Woman sinned, they died spiritually right away, not physically. They lived physically for several hundred years so they could “be fruitful and multiply,” as God had said. Unfortunately, however, they are no longer sinless, so they will birth sinful humanity. All humans descend from Adam and Eve. Jesus was not born in sin because He is the holy seed of God. Through Christ’s blood sacrifice for sin, those who believe in Him can have the Holy Spirit dwell in us. We are covered by His sinless blood. After believing in Jesus, our “natural” flesh must unite with God’s Holy Spirit in order to be born spiritually and understand the spiritual Word of God (Truth). Because Nicodemus doesn’t understand who Jesus is, he cannot “see” and “know” spiritual things. Our “new” birth is very different from our “old” birth. One is eternal and the other temporal. God’s Holy Spirit makes us spiritually alive and will change us from the fleshly to the spiritual. God imparts His life into us by His Holy Spirit and Word/Jesus. 1 Peter 1:23 says that we are born again by the incorruptible Seed of the Word of God. All things were created through the Word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. The Word and the Holy Spirit carried out the will of God. All things will be recreated by the Word/Jesus and the Holy Spirit by the will of God.

Jesus came from above and was born in the flesh. We are born of the flesh and must be born again in the Spirit. If Nicodemus is to be eternal, he too must be born from above through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus is seeing with fleshly eyes, so he doesn’t understand what Jesus means about being born again. He asks Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” v4 In Nicodemus’ fleshly mind, this would be impossible. With God, all things are possible!

In the Older Testament, gentiles who converted to Judaism had to be washed in the water and were considered born anew. In the spiritual, believers in Christ are washed in the water of the Word and Holy Spirit to become spiritual. 

Jesus responds to Nicodemus’ question, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” Vv4-5 Jesus is the only One to walk the earth that was not born in sin because He is the holy Seed of God, not sinful man. Jesus continues, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Vv7-8 Wind in Hebrew is ruach which means wind/spirit. We don’t know where the wind comes from, but we see what it does. The Holy Spirit is the same. We don’t always know how the Spirit works in us, but we see the changes it brings in human lives. A person not born of the Spirit cannot understand the things of God or enter into God’s kingdom because the things of God are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14: ”The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” In the flesh, we are spiritually powerless and spiritually blind. Without the Spirit, Nicodemus is spiritually blind and deaf. He cannot “see” and “know.”


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