Summary: Nicodemus had been confronted with the fact that his religious zeal would not make him righteous before God. It is only by being “born again” through the work of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins that we are forgiven and restored to a true relationship with God.
The mark of a true learner is his or her willingness to be corrected of an erroneous belief or idea that would tend to deter them from seeking the truth about a subject of interest or topic of discussion. They are not so immovable in their thinking to where they refuse to consider anything else but their set opinion or ideology.
When we read of the encounter between the Pharisee Nicodemus and the Lord Jesus in this chapter, we are witnessing a man who was knowledgeable in the customs, traditions, and the Scriptures that had defined what it meant to be a follower of God and someone who showed devotion and zeal in his faith. He was also willing to be taught by the Master Teacher on what it really meant to love God and have an authentic relationship with Him. Nicodemus looked like he had everything in order as far as his religious fervor was concerned, and on the outside, the public viewed him as godly and sincere in his faith. He greeted Jesus with a compliment and a recognition that He was someone sent from God due to the miracles and teachings He had presented thus far to the people of Israel.
We can commend Nicodemus for having an attitude of respect and genuine interest in the work of the LORD. He was not hostile or indifferent towards Jesus as some of his fellow Pharisees who thought they had their religious act together.
In our last study, Jesus had waived off Nicodemus’ accolades and got to the point in their discussion. He told Nicodemus of the need to be “born again” in order to have a genuine relationship with God. Nicodemus had been confused about the term as he thought it referred to re-entering his mother’s womb and repeating the birthing process that brought him into the world. Jesus corrected his thinking by presenting a birth that involved the soul within humanity, the essence of who we are, and that part of our design that was meant to commune with God.
Our souls needed to be revived from their state of death brought upon us by the sins we bear, the lineage of sin brought down through the ages by the act of the first man, Adam, the federal head of the human race (Genesis 3:1-24; Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23, 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:3). We are the inheritors of the sin nature, and we tend to act accordingly, as evidenced by the wickedness we have done throughout history (Romans 1:18-32, 3:10-18).
Because we are born in sin, our souls are dead in sin and, like a corpse, cannot be brought back to life save for the grace of God. Salvation is not through any system of works or deeds we do in our own strength but is totally a work of the LORD and Him alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2). Anyone who teaches anything contrary to what Jesus Christ has done for us through His sinless sacrifice of His life for our sins on the cross is to be cursed (Galatians 1:8-9). Jesus Christ will not share with anyone or any other means the total and finished work He accomplished on our behalf. God Incarnate took it upon Himself to rescue us from the hell we deserve for our rebellion and hatred towards Him (Romans 5:6-11).
Jesus used an illustration from Israel’s past to show Nicodemus that by looking to the LORD alone, we can be rescued from the poison of sin.
During the time of the sojourn in the wilderness, where the people of Israel had been condemned by God to wander as a punishment for their unbelief and cowardness for not crossing into the Promised Land and conquering it, they were in a constant state of complaining against Moses and the will of God (Numbers 24:1-10). Therefore, the LORD sent poisonous serpents to go among the rebellious Israelites and bite them, causing them to die. They cried out to Moses for help and forgiveness against their complaining, and God told Moses to make a carving of a serpent from bronze and place it on a pole so that anyone who looked upon it would live.
Jesus told Nicodemus that He, like that symbol Moses erected before the people of Israel, would be lifted up (John 3:14-15) and be the permanent sign and seal of redemption and healing from the curse of sin that was upon humanity. He then says the words that are the Gospel message in a nutshell (John 3:16). It was the death of Jesus Christ that provides the only means for the “new birth” He was teaching to Nicodemus, and to us as well.
The sinner (all of us) must come to faith in Christ alone for salvation, believing that He died for our sins according to the Scriptures (Isaiah 53:1-12; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8), that He was buried, proving His actual death by being in the grave three days and nights, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This is the Gospel that saves, but it is powerless to save unless the sinner believes it (Romans 1:16-17). This is the crux of what it means to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and to live a life that is pleasing to Him and that is under His control and direction (Matthew 16:25; Luke 14:25-35; John 14;15, 15:8; 1 John 3:21-22).
The sad fact is that the world prefers to reside in its self-made darkness, loving it and being covered by its alleged sense of security from the eyes and judgment of God (Hebrews 9:27). Our self-made darkness that envelops every unredeemed individual in this world cannot stand to be exposed by the light of the Gospel and the fact of salvation through Jesus Christ and not our own efforts. It is our own efforts, teachings, lifestyles, and other wicked deeds that rightly sentence us to the eternal hell we deserve (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:11-15).
We do not deserve mercy or anything else from God, yet, in His Sovereign grace, He chose to rescue us from just such a punishment. He has made the way for us to have eternal life, freedom from the bondage of sin and the certainty of hell, and to have fellowship with Him and all the redeemed of history in a heaven that our poor words cannot adequately describe (1 Corinthians 2:8-9; Revelation 21:1-7). This is the “new birth” that Jesus freely offers to us, but the time to do so is NOW (2 Corinthians 6:2). Salvation is a free gift, and all you have to do is say “YES.”
My YouTube broadcasts titled “The Reality City Review” will be posted on Facebook, GETTR, Parler, and on my website when completed. My main area of discussion will be on the basics of the Christian faith but will also deal with prophetic issues and other topics as the Lord impresses upon me to handle.