Nicodemus Didn’t Quite Get It!
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”
1 John 5:1 (KJV)
The influential Pharisee named Nicodemus waited until it was dark. He desperately wanted to see Jesus but his colleagues in the Sanhedrin must never know. So he came in the dark of night and knocked on Jesus’ door. What took place there blew his mind; because the conversation took a dramatic turn from religion to new birth!
Notice how he addresses Jesus here; “Rabbi…we realise that you are a teacher who has come from God. Obviously no one could show the signs that you show unless God were with him.” Perhaps this was something he had rehearsed before this meeting to break the ice and put Jesus at ease; who knows? But I’m sure he was totally unprepared for the reply Jesus gave: “Believe me…a man cannot see the kingdom of God without being born again.” (John 3:2-3 Phillips).
Nicodemus was out of his depth at this point; this was something that he just couldn’t get his head around. This very important leader of the Jews asks; “And how can a man who’s getting old possibly be born?…How can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time?” Then Jesus takes this hard saying to another level, telling him; “I assure you…that unless a man is born from water and from Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh and Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (Verses 4-7 Phillips).
Physical birth is a passive act; the baby doesn’t contribute anything to this process—it’s all the work of the mother; she pushes, agonises and gives birth. With rebirth the Holy Spirit does the work, He is called “the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). This new birth doesn’t rely on any human effort but is completely in God’s hands; the Apostle John says: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13).
As we have seen, Nicodemus struggled to grasp this idea of being born of God but after Jesus died he appears on the scene and assists in his burial as we read in John 19:39-40 Williams), “Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” I wonder if Nicodemus recalled that difficult conversation as he helped to anoint, wrap and lay Jesus tenderly in the tomb—I hope he did!
Father, thank you that you have adopted us as your beloved children; born of you by your Spirit through your grace and love.
Study by Cliff Neill
About the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton.
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
LUTON LU1 5JE
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