John Lesson 4
John Chapter 3:1-18
In Chapter 2 we saw Jesus perform His first miracle in His ministry and later in the chapter saw Him drive out the moneychangers from the temple. Jesus had been sent from God to save those who would believe, and Jesus was very much against the way that organized religion had turned the Lords House into a place of profit. This week, we begin Chapter 3 seeing one of the religious leaders, Nicodemus, coming the Lord in the night.
I. The New Birth
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Several things should be noted about Nicodemus. First, he was a very religious man. One of the Pharisees, one of the strongest religious groups that were very serious about religion. I think this is highly important, in that this man would seek out our Lord. The average man on the street many times does not have a lot of theological training, so he might believe something that was not of God as truth. But a man who had much training, one that was a ruler of the Jews, this man saw that Jesus was no ordinary teacher. He calls him "Rabbi", showing respect, and states that "Thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." Nicodemus was right Jesus was far more than a man, He was the Messiah. Is it not true that sometimes those most trained in religious matters can become entangled in the worst snares. The Pharisees boasted that they were the only interpreters of the law as if they possessed the marrow and hidden meaning of Scripture. If anyone claims to be the only one who can interpret the Word of the Lord, know that they are not teaching the truth. The Holy Spirit will open our eyes to the truth if we but let Him work in our lives.
2 Pet 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
2 Pet 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
It is also important to note that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, probably fearing the reproach of the other religious leaders if they say him talking to Jesus. Those that fear to be seen in the light with Christ fear reproach, or they are more concerned with the praise of man. You can always tell preachers who are concerned about the praise of man, they do not preach with Power of the Lord. They are tentative and fear man. We should fear God, not man.
John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
John 12:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Here Jesus tells one of the elite religious leaders of the day that not only will he not enter into the kingdom of God, he will not even see it if he is not born again. Give Nicodemus credit, he had dropped the false mask of the Pharisees and came straight to Jesus to find the truth. He hears about something that he has never heard before "Be born again."
John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Nicodemus is honest and asks a very sensible question. How can you be born again if you are old? None of us can come to God unless we experience this new birth, and Jesus explains what it takes to be born again. It is not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth. We do not reenter our mothers womb, but we are born by the Spirit. Note it talks about how that we must be born of water and of the spirit to enter the kingdom of God. Some religious groups use this to prove baptismal regeneration. But Jesus explains the full meaning of the verse in verse 6. When we are first born, we come forth from our mothers in sack of water true? That is the first birth born of water is the "Flesh is flesh" part of verse 6. Then the second birth is of the Spirit, which is the second half of the verse 6 where it speaks of "That which is boron of the Spirit is spirit." In simple terms, we must experience two births. The physical into this world, and the spiritual which gains us access to the kingdom of God. (heaven)
John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
When a man or woman is saved, we dont understand where it comes from, just like we cant see the wind but we feel the wind dont we? Same way when the Holy Spirit comes into us and abides with us, He bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Nicodemus is a bit confused, and asks "How can these things be?" The lost man can not truly comprehend the things of God because they are spiritually discerned. But he illuminates our eyes when we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
II. Jesus reveals Way to Heaven
John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
John 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
Jesus is very candid with Nicodemus about the importance of the new birth. He says "You are a master of Israel" and dont know these things? Jesus then makes it clear that unless he could understand worldly things, how could he possibly believe heavenly things. We are faced with the same dilemma in life. We must come to God by faith. We will never totally understand about salvation while we are here on earth, but we must trust God and believe Him.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that no man has ascended up to heaven only Jesus has come down from heaven to be on earth with man. Christ is exhorting Nicodemus to not trust himself and his own wisdom because no mortal had ever entered into heaven.
1 Cor 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
1 Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Man many times wants to think that he has a mind that can think like God. But we are not even on a plane to consider how high Gods thoughts truly are.
1 Cor 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
1 Cor 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
1 Cor 3:20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, and everyone that looked upon that serpent, did not die of the snake bites, so will it be with those that come to Jesus. And Jesus was lifted up on the cross, and he paid for our sins on Calvary. And when you and I lift Him up today, he will draw all men to Him and save as many as will believe.
John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
In John Calvins commentary on John, he wrote: "To be lifted up means to be placed in an elevated position so that everyone can see you. This was done by the preaching of the Gospel. The explanation of this which some people put forward, that it refers to the cross, does not fit the context or match his present argument. So the straightforward meaning of the words is that by the preaching of the Gospel Christ was raised up like a standard so that everybodys eyes would be directed to him, just as Isaiah had predicted in chapter 2, verse 2. As a type of this lifting up he refers to the snake which was erected by Moses. People who had been harmed by the fatal bite of snakes were healed when they looked on the elevated bronze serpent. (Numbers 21) Christ introduces this here to show that he has to be viewed by everyone through the teaching of the Gospel, so that everyone who looks at him with faith may receive salvation."
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
What a great great verse. Perhaps one of the first you ever memorized as a child. As the song we sometimes sing "Oh for the Love of the One up above, oh for the Love of God"
When we stop and see the great grace, the unmerited love of God for us, what a blessing to have such a great Heavenly Father that withholds no blessings for his children. As we spoke of last night, there is no one on Gods earth that can not be the richest person in the world if we but know Jesus as Savior. And then there are those with many worldly riches that are but paupers in Gods sight. What a blessing, what a joy to have Jesus as Lord and Savior.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Note that the Lord was not sent to condemn the world, but to save it. Many dont acknowledge their lost and undone condition before God today. They dont take their position as a lost and condemned sinner in need of a savior. But verse 18 explains that all that have sinned are condemned already, because they have not believed on the name of Jesus. Jesus is the one we need to look to Him and Him alone.
John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
John 11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
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