How well do we know our friends? When we get together with our friends we have the usual small talk. We catch up on work, family, and might even get into some politics. We will have our laughs; our sober moments about our extended circle of friends; and competition of wits.
We are surprised when we learn something new about our friends. We are used to their ways. They are used to our ways. Every once in a while we learn something new about our friends. This new knowledge helps us to appreciate them a whole lot more.
It’s like when we are reading one of the most famous passages of the Bible. We have read or heard this passage recited numerous times. We may even know someone who has John 3:16 tattooed on their arm! As we visit with the 3rd chapter of John, I hope we learn something new. I pray the Holy Spirit reveals to you how God can and does change our lives when we believe in Jesus Christ. Then I pray we accept God’s work in our lives. For this chapter is not only a teaching moment for us.
A. This is a teaching moment for Nicodemus (3:1-10)
a. Jesus: “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above again”
i. Άνωθεν – means both “from above” and “again”!
ii. Separating this dual meaning misses the point of what Jesus said
2. Nicodemus: “What?”
a. Why would we want to be born again from above?
b. Why would we want to be born from above again?
c. We have all participated in sin and death
d. We have messed up looking like the image of God
3. Jesus: “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit”
a. “Regeneration is absolutely prior to Christian freedom” – John Calvin
b. God created us once, by believing in Jesus we are re-created
c. Once we were born from the water of the womb
d. Now, we can be born again from above by the Spirit of God through belief in Jesus as the Son of Man
4. The Spirit moves where and how it will, like the wind
5. Nicodemus still doesn’t understand (he did come to Jesus in darkness)
6. Why would we want to be born again from above? Because we share in the history of sin and death, we would need a way to overcome sin and death. Our own choosing won’t be enough. God chooses that we have a way to be born again from above. God wants us in his kingdom. It has to be on God’s terms. We cannot go to our friend’s house and impose our will. So, we cannot impose our will to get into God’s house. Are we willing to do what is necessary to get into the kingdom of God? I need Jesus’ help to explain this idea.
B. Jesus explains himself (3:11-17)
1. This is what Jesus knows
2. Earthly things pale in comparison to heavenly things – belief is possible!
3. Only the Son of Man has descended from heaven
4. The Son of Man will ascend – cross – resurrection – ascension
a. The Israelites chose to follow other gods and the Israelites died from this choice
b. God told Moses to lift up a bronze serpent (God provided a way for life)
c. When the Israelites looked to the bronze serpent/to God, they lived
d. When we look to Jesus, lifted up, we live, have eternal life!
5. Believe in the Son of Man = eternal life
6. God sent his only Son so we wouldn’t perish
7. The Son was sent into the world so we might be saved!
8. Yes, this idea of being saved is all about looking to God. The only way we can get into the kingdom of God is by believing in Jesus. We enter heaven by God’s way. If we don’t enter by God’s way, then we won’t be saved. That is just it – God wants us to be saved. His Son came to be the way into God’s kingdom. The Spirit comes through our lives making it possible for us to live in God’s kingdom.
We have chosen to live our way for our whole lives. Our ways won’t get us into the kingdom of God. We cannot demand for God to let us into heaven. We can find that God has a way for us to be live eternally with him.
Today, we are inquiring of God. We want to know more about this Jesus we have seen working. That’s what Nicodemus was doing. Nicodemus found out more about Jesus than he had known. We also can find out more about Jesus than we have known.
We can find that we can be born again from above so as to enter the kingdom of God. We find that the Spirit moves in our lives so that we can believe in Jesus. We find that the Spirit of God remakes us in God’s image so we can live eternally with God. Is today the day you start believing? Is today the day you start living an eternal life?