Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jesus Explains "Born Again"

Nicodemus Comes to Jesus

John 3

1There was a man named Nicodemus who was one of the Pharisees and an
important Jewish leader. 2One night Nicodemus came to Jesus and said,
“Teacher, we know you are a teacher sent from God, because no one can do the
miracles you do unless God is with him.”

3Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, unless one is born again, he cannot be
in God’s kingdom.”

4Nicodemus said, “But if a person is already old, how can he be born again?
He cannot enter his mother’s body again. So how can a person be born a second

5But Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, unless one is born from water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter God’s kingdom.
6Human life comes from human
parents, but spiritual life comes from the Spirit.
7Don’t be surprised when I tell
you, ‘You must all be born again.’
8The wind blows where it wants to and you
hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it
is going. It is the same with every person who is born from the Spirit.”

9Nicodemus asked, “How can this happen?”

10Jesus said, “You are an important teacher in Israel, and you don’t
understand these things?
11I tell you the truth, we talk about what we know, and
we tell about what we have seen, but you don’t accept what we tell you.
12I have
told you about things here on earth, and you do not believe me. So you will not
believe me if I tell you about things of heaven.
13The only one who has ever gone
up to heaven is the One who came down from heaven—the Son of Man.

14“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, the Son of Man must also
be lifted up.
15So that everyone who believes can have eternal life in him.

16“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that
whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.
17God did not send
his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through
18People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not
believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s
one and only Son.
19They are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the
world, but they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were
doing evil things.
20All who do evil hate the light and will not come to the light,
because it will show all the evil things they do.
21But those who follow the true
way come to the light, and it shows that the things they do were done through

Jesus and John the Baptist

22After this, Jesus and his followers went into the area of Judea, where he
stayed with his followers and baptized people. 23John was also baptizing in
Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. People were going
there to be baptized. 24(This was before John was put into prison.)

25Some of John’s followers had an argument with a Jew about religious
washing. 26So they came to John and said, “Teacher, remember the man who
was with you on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you spoke about so
much? He is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

27John answered, “A man can get only what God gives him. 28You yourselves
heard me say, ‘I am not the Christ, but I am the one sent to prepare the way for
him.’ 29The bride belongs only to the bridegroom. But the friend who helps the
bridegroom stands by and listens to him. He is thrilled that he gets to hear the
bridegroom’s voice. In the same way, I am really happy. 30He must become
greater, and I must become less important.

The One Who Comes from Heaven

31“The One who comes from above is greater than all. The one who is from
the earth belongs to the earth and talks about things on the earth. But the One
who comes from heaven is greater than all. 32He tells what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts what he says. 33Whoever accepts what he says has proven that
God is true. 34The One whom God sent speaks the words of God, because God
gives him the Spirit fully. 35The Father loves the Son and has given him power
over everything. 36Those who believe in the Son have eternal life, but those who
do not obey the Son will never have life. God’s anger stays on them.”

 The Holy Bible, New Century Version


Nicodemus belonged to the highest governing body of the Jewish people, the Sanhedrin. Many of these Jewish leaders were bound by tradition and legalism.


Jesus came to free men and women from slavery to sin and from the chains of legalism.


The meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus was more than an encounter between two religious figures. It was a collision between two philosophies. Two opposing views on salvation.

Nicodemus thought the person did the work; Jesus says God does the work. ...

These two views encompass all views. All the world religions can be placed in one of two camps: legalism or grace....

A legalist believes the supreme force behind salvation is you. If you look right, speak right, and belong to the right segment of the right group, you will be saved. The brunt of responsibility doesn't lie with God; it lies within you....

Spirituality, Jesus says, comes not from church attendance or good deeds or correct doctrine, but from heaven itself. Such words must have set Nicodemus back on his heels. But Jesus was just getting started....

Salvation is God's business.

Grace is his idea, his work, and his expense. He offers it to whom he desires, when he desires. Our job in the process is to inform the people, not screen the people.

The question must have been written all over Nicodemus's face. Why would God do this? What would motivate him to offer such a gift? What Jesus told Nicodemus, Nicodemus could never have imagined. The motive behind the gift of new birth? Love. "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life" (v. 16).

Nicodemus has never heard such words. Never. He has had many discussions of salvation. But this is the first in which no rules were given. No system was offered. No code or ritual. "Everyone who believes can have eternal life in him;' Jesus told him. Could God be so generous? (From He Still Moves Stones by Max Lucado)


Are there religious "rules" you observe but do not understand? Did God command them, or did mere men create them? Do they help you feel close to God? If so, keep them. Are some confusing to you? Ask your pastor to explain them to you.


Legalism - Matthew 5:17, 21-22; 12:9-12; 1 Corinthians 10:25-27.

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