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Jesus and You 2

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2. The Jewish  teacher

 

John 3:1-17 (New Living Translation) There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you."
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"
Jesus replied, "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."
"How are these things possible?" Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won't believe our testimony. But if you don't believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

This man, Nicodemus, wants to know more about Jesus and investigate him personally, instead of following the majority of the other Jewish leaders. Who was this man, we know as Nicodemus? He was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish ruling council. Nicodemus was a leading teacher and learned scholar. From other sources we know he may well have been from a family of wealthy landowners. We do know that later he protested against Jesus' condemnation without a trial (John 7:50-52) and that he took gifts to anoint Jesus' body (John 19:39-40) Nicodemus was probably one of the many people looking for a kingdom of God based around a political Messiah; hence admitting that due to his miraculous signs, Jesus must have been from God. These people wanted a Messiah who was a political leader - somebody who would lead Israel to be a shining light for the whole world to come to Jerusalem and worship the one true living God.

However, Jesus corrects Nicodemus and says that it is not through a new Israel, a political kingdom that God's kingdom will be seen, but by being "born again". Three times in this conversation, Jesus repeats about being "born again". What does "born again" mean? The phrase "born again" is not a physical rebirth and nor is it merely a turning over a new leaf. It also is not baptism because Jesus has not instituted baptism yet! However, "born again" is the new covenant, which Nicodemus should have known about it (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36), and that it is being born with water and spirit - cleansed of sin and indwelt with the Holy Spirit! It is being born from above, which is looking to the one who has come down from heaven. For the phrase "born again" can also be translated "born from above". To be born again, means to be looking to Jesus and trusting in him in all situations, just as the ancient Israelites were saved by looking at the bronze snake (Numbers 21v8)

Finally, for now, to be born again, is on an individual basis, rather than collective basis, just as physical birth is. Nobody knows the date and time of their own birth unless they are told by somebody! Jesus seemed astonished that the teacher didn't already know that! Nicodemus, we know, was a highly educated and learned teacher! Nicodemus, left with more to think about regarding this Jesus. Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

 

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