Nicodemus and New Birth
Message #4 of "John: A Story to Believe" (Sunday, March 27, 9 am; Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.)
--- Nicodemus: Who is this man? (3:1-3) ---
- He was among the RELIGIOUS ELITE OF ISRAEL.
- He was a political POWERHOUSE IN ISRAEL.
- He was possibly the most PRESTIGIOUS JEW OF HIS DAY. (Jesus referred to him as "THE teacher" - think of someone who is always consulted these days - like Rick Warren now or Billy Graham before that.)
- He was very INTRIGUED WITH JESUS. (Probably because he didn't want to be seen in the company of that "troublemaker" Jesus.)
He calls Jesus "rabbi" even though he knew he wasn't. Nicodemus was seeking more prestige by learning more about Jesus.
So dumbfounded, he gave a dumb answer. "What?!????"
--- The Conversation with Jesus (3:4-21) ---
Question #1: What is THIS 'BORN AGAIN' STUFF?
Ezekiel 36:24-27 - this is something that would have been well known to the Jews
(especially the teachers), a great passage of hope. (Dude... Nicodemus... How can you be confused? I'm making this personal.)
Answer #1: It is a WORK OF GOD'S SPIRIT which gives one A NEW LIFE.
(This isn't about 'getting religion' this is about getting a brand new life.)
Question #2: How can this HAPPEN WITH ME?
Here you are a teacher of Israel, THE teacher and you don't understand? Moses and the Snake - Numbers 21 - God sent the snakes and the people repented and begged for mercy. God told Moses to make the snake and put it on a pole for them to look up to and be healed. (Parallel to Jesus going up on the cross and us looking to him and being healed of your sins.). Not just a belief that a God exists but accepting him as our God.
Answer #2: Through FAITH IN ME.
- The new birth is a GIFT OF LOVE, not a result of OUR GOOD WORKS.
- It is a gift of LIFE, not ETERNAL JUDGEMENT. (If he wanted to squish us, he wouldn't have made us in the first place.)
- It is a gift of LIGHT, not DARKNESS.
--- The Questions for Us ---
1. Have you RECEIVED THE NEW BIRTH THAT ONLY JESUS CAN GIVE?
Nicodemus was a secret follower for three years.
2. Are you still AMAZED AT THAT GIFT?
Jesus points out to Nicodemus that he's been a believer so long that he's forgotten why he believed in the first place.
God loves each of us as if there was only one of us to love." -- Augustine
God loves you (your name here) so he wants to spent eternity with you, beyond your short years here on earth. However, God is perfect and a perfect being cannot be with someone who is imperfect. Becoming perfect is something we are unable to do on our own - there's no possible way was can pay or do anything big enough to overcome our imperfection. So God has paid our way through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. All we need do is accept this gift.