Nicodemus is known as the ‘one who came to Jesus by night’, yet no one really knows why! Many have speculated to no end.
I. THESE THINGS WE KNOW:
A. He was wealthy! (John 19:39)
Rich people know other rich people. They often run together and join the same clubs and frequent the same social events. Sometimes they go to the same church. Nicodemus accompanied Joseph of Arimathea to obtaim permission to take the body of Jesus and bury it. (Joseph was another ‘secret’ disciple of Jesus.) Nicodemus had brought a mixture of Myrrh and Aloes, “about 75 pounds, and together they wrapped Jesus’ body and buried it.)
B. He was also a “Pharisee” (“Chaburah” which means “Brotherhood”.) The Pharisees spent their entire life in studying and observing every detail of the law, (as well as making sure everyone else did the same.) There were approximately 6,000 Pharisees, and they were considered the ‘best’ in the country. They were orthodox and could quote the first five books of Moses, which they considered the complete will of God. They considered themselves ‘perfect’ as regarding law keeping.
C. He was a ‘ruler’ (“archon”) – One of seventy who made up the Sanhedrin, which was the Supreme court of the Jews. They claimed jurisdiction over all Jews throughout the world. One o’f their duties was to examine every ‘so-called’ prophet and determine whether they were TRUE OR FALSE prophets.
D. He came to Jesus by night. I doubt that this was due to his busy schedule… and more likely because he had much to loose by being an admirer of Jesus of Nazareth. So he exercised caution… He seems to have been a troubled man, and one who ‘thought for himself’. Night time was also a good time to get Jesus by himself and just talk. Reading from verse 1-21, one is amazed to see the depth of the private, one on one study which Jesus had with this man.
II. “YOU’RE A GREAT TEACHER”
(Jesus did to this man what He can do to everyone… HE CHANGED HIM!)
Often when we think of ‘change’, it is OUTWARD. We change our looks with loosing weight, face lifts, make-up, exercise, new clothes and so on. Jesus is not so interested in the outside as He is the inside… the heart, mind and soul.
He speaks to nicodemus about the NEW BIRTH. There are a few passages which help with this which we will be looking at besides this text, but this is the key to them all.
A. “Born again” (Gk. “Anothen” born from above).
This is important because it deals with real change… Here’s what I think (ie. my opinion). 1.) It means ‘from the beginning, radical, complete, 2.) “Again” in the sense of a ‘second time’. 3.) “From above” – From God. While it is difficult to get all of this into one English word… The phrase “BORN AGAIN” OR “BORN FROM ABOVE” seems to be the best way to describe what Jesus is telling Nicodemus and US!
B. Let’s look at some passages carefully:
1.) John 3:3-5 (These are Jesus’ words) “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is BORN AGAIN.” “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is BORN OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT.”
2.) I Peter 1:3, 22-23 “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us NEW BIRTH into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been BORN AGAIN, not of perishing seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” ,
3.) James 1:18 “He chose to give us BIRTH through (by way of) the word of truth that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.”
4.) Titus 3:5 “He saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of REBIRTH and RENEWAL by the Holy Spirit, whom he POURED OUT on us generously THROUGH Jesus Christ our Savior.”
5.) Romans 6:1-11 (Read)
6.) I Corinthians 3:1-2 “Brothers, I could not address you as SPIRITUAL, but as worldly – mere infants in Christ….”
7.) II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ – he is a new creature; the old has gone and the new has come.”
8.) Galatians 6:15 “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”
9.) Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught , with regard to your FORMER WAY OF LIFE, to put off your OLD SELF, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be MADE NEW in the attitude of your minds; and to PUT ON the NEW SELF, created to be LIKE GOD in true righteousness and holiness.”
10.) Hebrews 5:12-14 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need mild, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.”
Read and re-read these passages. As Hodge has said, “Familiar passages need to be studied again.” Here the writer(s) speak refer to our new birth… our ‘spiritual birthday.’
Here we find references to the SOURCE, the POWER, the LOVE and MERCY and the means by which we learn about this new birth. We also read of INFANTS in Christ and MILK. This is for the NEW BORN… and those who are not growing up properly. Here we read about the before and after (birth), dead and alive. Buried and raised to walk a NEW LIFE. We read about baptism which symbolizes a point where this birth takes place… but there is more to come…
III. THE NEW BIRTH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
A. Born INTO the kingdom (grace rule) of God (through Jesus) “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14).
B. Born INTO the family of God as ‘children’ (I Timothy 3:15 Speaks of “God’s household, which is the church of the living God…”; “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like LITTLE CHILDREN you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
C. Born into the ‘body’ of Christ. “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his BODY, the fulness of Him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:22-23). “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church….” (Ephesians 5:25-27). “For we were ALL baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were ALL given the one Spirit to drink” (I Corinthians 12:13). We are given a new heart/spirit (Ezekiel 36:26).
D. “Pneuma” – (Gk. “spirit or wind”). “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit” (John 3:6-8). Thus it is hard… very hard to explain everything about the Spirit of God. Basics, we know! Even the birth of a human is hard to explain everything. Basics we know! (Don’t put the Spirit in a ‘box’!) We may not know everything, but we know the Spirit works… we can see the effects!!!
E. “Water and Spirit”. The “water” IS baptism in water. This is “for the remission of sins”, a sense of ‘cleansing’. The ‘Spirit’ IS also referring to baptism in the Holy Spirit. Yet (this is important), there is only one birth… two elements… ONE BIRTH. The Holy Spirit is the life Giver, and source of power for the Christian life. (DON’T GET HUNG UP ON THE WORD ‘BAPTISM’ when referring to the Spirit (cf. Jno. 3:3-5). I can baptize someone into water and raise him up… Jesus gives the Spirit and the Spirit gives life (anew). We are not dealing with gifts FROM the Spirit here… what we are speaking of and what Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about… is THE NEW BIRTH… a new beginning. This birth involves water and Spirit… The Spirit is referred to in Acts 2:38-39 as a GIFT. Jesus speaks of the Spirit as the activating, renewing, regenerating element in this NEW BIRTH.
Beloved in the Lord… The bible does not teach water birth ONLY nor does it teach SPIRIT birth ONLY… The Bible teaches both water and Spirit INVOLVED IN ONE BIRTH. A Spirit-less water birth is powerless providing no life. A water-less Spirit birth is useless sense one cannot separate these two elements from the NEW BIRTH.
John 3:3-5 (These are Jesus’ words… not mine!) “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is BORN AGAIN.” “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is BORN OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT.”
Why fear what the Master says? Why deny what Jesus plainly teaches? Just because there is misunderstanding and false teaching on the subject doesn’t mean we have to deny the very power of the Christian’s life!
Christian, you have been baptized in water and the Spirit! Call it “the gift of the Spirit” (Acts 2:38-39), call it the “out pouring” (Acts 2). It all refers to the same thing… God through Jesus gives His people the Spirit of God!
Good books to study:
The BIBLE! (I used the New International Version for this study. I like it. Use what you like.)
“The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense” by Terry Rush
“Christian You Are Biaptized in Water and the Holy Spirit” by Robert Gibson
“The Holy Spirit” by Richard Rogers
“How The Holy Spirit Works in the Life of the Christian Today” by Jack Exum
I would enjoy hearing from you on this and other studies on this web site… God bless you in your search for truth. Grace and peace! By the way… don’t be surprised if I don’t update this and other articles… I just keep studying.