We all know the story of Nicodemus, the Jewish leader who came to visit with Jesus one evening. It’s not clear if he came in the night so no one else would see him, or if this just happened to be the time when Jesus was available. What is clear is he was curious to know more about the teachings of Jesus. Jesus had been performing many miracles and Nicodemus was convinced these were supernatural acts empowered by God. What followed was a personal one-on-one lesson from Jesus about our spiritual birth.
This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” John 3:2 (NASB)
Unlike other Jewish leaders, Nicodemus was not threatened by the growing popularity of Jesus. He was ready to learn and especially concerned about how he could get into the coming kingdom of God. Jesus offered a totally unexpected answer.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NASB)
Before talking with Jesus, Nicodemus was under the impression that his genealogy and his constant adherence to the Jewish law entitled him to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus corrected that misconception.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:5-6 (NASB)
Jesus taught Nicodemus that his earthly birth was not enough to allow him admission to the kingdom of God; he would need a spiritual birth to make that transition. Jesus was teaching the need for a sinless genealogy to enter the kingdom of God, and no human father meets that criteria. Only Jesus, the Son of Man, can deliver a sinless nature to His children.
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.” John 3:13 (NASB)
At the moment of this conversation, Nicodemus was sitting with the one man who could provide him with access to the kingdom of God.
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” John 3:14-15 (NASB)
Jesus was teaching Nicodemus the gospel truth; admission to the kingdom of God hinged completely on the death and resurrection of Jesus, which brings us to a verse of scripture that is known throughout the world.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)
It was impossible for Nicodemus to ignore the miracles of Jesus and the presence of God that emanated from his being. Jesus taught Nicodemus that trusting in the spirit of God was essential to living eternally in his kingdom; but most importantly, Jesus taught Nicodemus to trust in Him and His miraculous death and resurrection that was to soon follow.
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What Jesus Teaches About Our Spiritual Birth
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