Last week we talked about our position before God.
If He is our Lord, there are very real and important implications for what that means for us.
We discussed the master/slave dynamic and how Jesus’ call to us was to follow Him and for Him to be our Lord
He becomes our identity
His will becomes our will
Our rights are laid aside
Our lives are His
Our future is in His hands.
God is a merciful, forgiving and loving master
This world is a ruthless and cruel master.
I wanted to set the tone for this series as we opened up.
As we open the discussion of the Gospel, we need to have a clear understanding of what that means.
Our world has presented a gospel that is really no gospel at all.
It is distorted and diluted.
In fact, in our world most people would accept anything other than complete and utter rejection as saving faith in Jesus Christ.
I believe this is a misunderstanding of the Gospel.
Simply not rejecting is not embracing the Gospel.
Today’s story should bring with it some deep thought and personal reflection.
We are going to look at how Jesus presented His Gospel to Nicodemus in John 3.
John 3 is usually communicated as the primary verse that we would share with non-believers about how simple it is to come to faith in Jesus.
In it is the Hall of Fame verse, John 3:16.
It carries with it the brilliant illustration of being Born Again.
This metaphor that Jesus used has become part of the vernacular of Christians around the world.
Even in reading statistics, we used a stat last week that stated that 1/3 of Americans consider themselves to be Born Again Christians.
Today, we are going to look at this story and break down what it says about being Born Again.
It is my goal to share what I believe Jesus tells about the Gospel, both through this story, and through the phrase, ‘Born Again’.
I want to set the stage for this story.
This story takes place very early in Jesus teaching ministry.
To this point, Jesus had been baptized, he had started to call a few of his disciples, he had done his first miracle (turning water into wine) and he had cleared the temple.
Jesus was starting to make waves in the religious world.
His miracles, his teaching and clearing the temple had many people likely wondering who this Jesus guy was.
In this story, a guy named Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night to find out about him
Now, we don’t know if he was sent by the ruling council.
Or maybe, he was simply trying to find out information for himself.
I want to build some of the background on Nicodemus, because I feel it is very important for this story.
First, we see that Nicodemus is a Pharisee.
A Pharisee was a group of people who studied and knew the law of God.
They scoured the OT and had built a list of rules that the people needed to maintain in order to be righteous before God.
These rules became the law of the Jewish people
Now we often look at the Pharisees as these Jerks who were always opposing Jesus.
As an insult, we call people who live by a strong set of rules a Pharisee.
But to those people at that time, the Pharisees were very highly revered.
These people had a passion in their hearts for obedience to God.
Is this a bad thing?
God had given His law, and the Pharisees were put in place to ensure people followed that law.
In a way, they had become the police officers of Biblical law.
The people respected them because they were keeping the country aligned with God’s law.
Nicodemus was also a member of the Jewish Ruling Council.
The Jewish Ruling Council was also called the Sanhedrin.
It was the court system for the Jewish people.
Nicodemus loved the law of God
Nicodemus taught the law of God
Nicodemus was a righteous man in the eyes of God’s law
Nicodemus was a respected leader.
So when we see Nicodemus coming to Jesus, he likely had many questions for Jesus about who he was, what his teachings were, and what his path forward was.
Was Jesus following the law?
On the list of followers of God in that culture, there were the priests and Levites, then there was the Pharisees.
Did he believe in God? Yes.
Did he read the Bible?
Did he pray?
Did he go to church (Temple and Synagogue)?
Did he make sacrifices for his sin?
In fact, all of the actions, thoughts and feelings of Nicodemus would lead us to believe, “He’s certainly a follower of God.”
There would certainly be many more people who we would consider to need greater Spiritual help from Jesus than Nicodemus.
This respected, religious leader came to Jesus and made a statement.
I don’t know if this statement was flattery, or if this statement was made from a truly genuine heart.
Rabbi means teacher
A leader, and teacher is addressing Jesus as “teacher”.
He approached Jesus as peer to peer.
Leader to leader.
He recognizes that Jesus comes from God
And he states why he believes Jesus came from God
This is something I believe we miss about the miracles Jesus performed and I believe it is something we miss as we pray for miracles today.
Miracles validated the message of the person performing the miracles.
How would people know to listen to Jesus.
He would perform a miracle and the people would see that what this person has to say is validated by God
You couldn’t misunderstand the miracle.
It was plain for all to see.
Miracles were never for convenience.
They were never to make life more comfortable.
They were always a validation from God to engage them to His message and draw them to Himself.
Nicodemus had seen the miracles and rightly looked beyond them to their purpose
The purpose of the miracle was to validate that Jesus carried God’s authority.
So we have a religious person approaching Jesus and acknowledging correctly (to a point) who he is.
Now Jesus could have really used an ally like Nicodemus.
If he has Nicodemus in his circle, he will have a voice in the Jewish Ruling Council.
He will have a Pharisee validated message.
The implications for Jesus ministry would be enormous!
We would think that Jesus would recognize this possibility and embrace it.
He certainly wouldn’t want to do anything to blow it.
Here is how Jesus responds.
Nicodemus didn’t ask any questions about the Kingdom of God.