In a recent text Jesus went into the temple at Jerusalem at

the time of the Passover and disrupted activities within the

temple courtyard.  He made a whip out of ropes and drove out the

sheep and oxen which were for sale.  He drove out those who sold

them.  He drove out those who sold doves and made them carry the

doves out with them.  He overturned the money tables where Hebrew

coins were sold to those who came from foreign countries and

drove out those who sat at the tables.  Needless to say, He did

not make friends with the temple officials.

    In our text last Sunday Jesus went out into the city of

Jerusalem and ministered to the great crowds who had come for the

Passover celebration.  He made friends with the people and healed

many who were sick and afflicted.  There must have been great

numbers who were healed.

    In our text today, we see a surprising turn of events.  A man

whom we would expect to be an enemy of Jesus came to Jesus on a

friendly basis and Jesus told him what he must do in order to

enter the Kingdom of God.  This is a very valuable piece of

information for all mankind.  Everybody needs to know how to

enter the kingdom of God.


I.  A visit from Nicodemus


    V. 1, "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a

ruler of the Jews."  Note that it is said that Nicodemus as a

Pharisee by religion.  That is, he was a member of the largest

and most respected religious group in Israel.  Yet this was a

group which, for the most part, became bitter enemies of Jesus

and gave Him a much opposition.

    Note also that it is said that Nicodemus was a ruler of the

Jews.  He was not a governmental ruler.  The Romans were in

control of the government and the only governmental position to

which Jews were appointed was that of tax collector.  No Jew held

a high office in the government of Israel.  The Romans did,

however, allow the Jews to rule in all matters pertaining to

religion in Israel.  The seventy members of the Sanhedrin Council

made up that ruling body and Nicodemus was a member of that


    It was the members of the Sanhedrin Council who had been so

greatly offended and angered by Jesus when He cleansed the

temple.  It is, therefore, a great surprise to find one of the

members of this council coming to Jesus in an attitude of great

respect and confidence confidence toward Jesus.


II.  The fear which Nicodemus had for other members of the



    V. 2, "The same came to Jesus by night.."  I remember hearing

preachers say that the reason Nicodemus came to Jesus by night

was because he feared the actions of other members of the Council

if they should find out that he was friendly toward with Jesus.

I remember that I questioned their reasoning.  I thought,

"Perhaps he was just too busy to come in the daytime and the only

time he could come was at night."  However, in view of the

preceding texts, I have changed my mind.  I now think that the

anger of most of the council members toward Jesus must have been

so great that Nicodemus just did not dare at that point of time

to buck them and come to Jesus openly and publicly.  He feared

what they might do to him.  He could lose his seat on the

Council.  He feared what they might do to his family.


III.  The respect that he had for Jesus


    (V. 2), "...and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a

teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that

thou doest, except God be with him."  Here we get an insight into

the thinking of Nicodemus, himself, toward Jesus.  He addressed

Jesus as "Rabbi." This word means "teacher" and is a word showing

respect.  The respect may not always be genuine.  The Pharisees

also addressed Jesus as Rabbi and did it insincerely.  They

called Him Rabbi even though they disrespected Him and were

trying trap Him with questions.  But Nicodemus genuinely

respected Jesus and had confidence in Him.

    He knew that John the Baptist had proclaimed Jesus as the

Christ, the Son of God.  He was not quite ready to accept that.

But because John the Baptist respected Jesus, he knew there was

good reason for him to do so.  He knew not only about the actions

of Jesus cleansing the temple.  He knew also about the many

miracles that He had performed healing many people in the city of

Jerusalem.  Those miracles caused Nicodemus to take an entirely

different attitude toward Jesus than most of the members of the

Council.  Nicodemus saw those miracles as a sign that Jesus,

indeed, was a man sent from God.  He said, "We know that thou art

a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that

thou doest, except God be with him."

    So Nicodemus accepted Jesus as "a teacher come from God."  He

not at this time accepted that Jesus is the Christ but he did

believe that Jesus is a God-sent teacher to the nation of Israel.

That is, he accepted Jesus as a prophet of God.

    Furthermore, Nicodemus said, "We know that thou are a teacher

come from God."  This raises the question:  Who was meant by the

word, we?  He certainly meant someone else in addition to

himself.  Were there other members of the Sanhedrin Council who

felt the same way that Nicodemus did?   I am not sure that we can

say whether there were other Council members who felt like

Nicodemus at this time, but a great many other people did.  Verse

23 of the previous chapter makes that clear.  They, too, had seen

the miracles and concluded that Jesus is a man sent from God.

    But the point is that Nicodemus fully believed that Jesus was

a teacher whom God the Father in Heaven had sent to Israel with a

message from God.  Nicodemus, himself, was a teacher in Israel

pertaining to religious matters.  That is why he was on the

Sanhedrin Council.  But he did not consider himself a prophet of

God and he wanted to hear the prophet whom God had sent.  He

wanted to hear the message that God had sent by Him.

    He did not come because he felt a need of being saved.  He

came because he wanted to hear the message that God had sent by

this prophet.  As a teacher and member of the Sanhedrin Council,

he felt that it was important for him to hear the message from

God's prophet.


IV.  The great necessity of the new birth


    V. 3, "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I

say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the

kingdom of God."  Jesus did not wait for Nicodemus to ask

questions.  Jesus started right in to teach this man a precious

truth that every man in the world needs to hear.  Jesus said that

except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  In

other words, except a man be born again he cannot go to heaven.

Except a man be born again he will go into the torments of hell.

The only way anybody can make it to heaven is to be born again

--- born from above.

    It takes more than the natural birth to enter into heaven.

It takes more than being a church member to enter into heaven.

It takes more than baptism to enter into heaven.  It takes more

than doing good deeds to enter into heaven.  There must be a

change on the inside.  The inner nature must be changed.  The

inward spirit must be born completely anew.

    As a result of Adam's fall into sin, the whole human race has

inherited the sin nature.  All men have sinned and come short of

the glory of God.  Sin will not enter into heaven and, therefore,

that inward nature must be changed into a sinless nature.  It

takes a new birth to change the inward nature of man.  On one

occasion Jesus illustrated this truth by saying that cleaning up

the inside of the cup and the platter is not enough.  The inside

of the cup and platter must also be made clean.  He said that it

is not enough to patch up an old garment.  The whole garment must

be made new.  That is why it is essential that one be born again,

born from above in order to make it into heaven.


V.  The explanation which Jesus gave


    V. 4, "Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when

he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb,

and be born?"  Nicodemus did not understand at all.  He did not

realize that Jesus was using the natural birth to illustrate and

explain the spiritual birth.  He thought Jesus was talking about

being born again from the natural point of view.  He could not

understand how a fully grown man could be born again.  He could

see that it would be impossible for a man to enter into his

mother's womb and be physically born again.  But Jesus was not

talking about a physical birth.  He was talking about a spiritual


    Jesus went on to explain:  V.  5, "Jesus answered, Verily,

verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the

Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Jesus said that

one must be born of the water and the Spirit.

    There is no question about the word, Spirit in this verse.

Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit

who produces the new birth.  The Holy Spirit of God reaches down

into the heart of a man and produces a new birth.  The old

depraved sinful spirit of the man is replaced with a totally new

totally sinless spirit.  Spiritually the man is born again.  That

is, his spirit is born again.  He still lives in the same flesh

with the same old flesh nature, but the inward spirit nature is

totally new.  It is born of the Holy Spirit of God and partakes

of the holy and sinless nature of the Holy Spirit of God.  It is

perfectly suitable for the Kingdom of God.  It is perfectly

suitable for heaven.

    It is important that we take notice of the word "water."

Jesus was not saying that baptism was necessary in order for one

to be saved.  In verse 19 of this same chapter Jesus made it

clear that it is not necessary for one to be baptized in order to

be saved.  He said, "He that believeth in Him is not condemned."

One can believe in Jesus and be saved whether or not he is ever

baptized.  Jesus said that if one believes he is not condemned.

That means he is not condemned to hell.  He is on his way to

heaven whether or not he is ever baptized.  Jesus would not say

in verse 5 that baptism is necessary for salvation and then say

in verse 19 that baptism is not necessary for salvation.  The

point that Jesus was making is that one must be born twice in

order to go to heaven.  He must have a natural birth and he must

also have a spiritual birth.


VI.  Further explanation by Jesus


    Jesus explained further:  V. 6, "That which is born of the

flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Fleshly bodies produce another fleshly body which is just as

depraved as our own bodies.  In the new birth, the Holy Spirit

produces a new spirit within us that is just as Holy and just as

sinless as the Holy Spirit, Himself.

    V. 7, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born

again."  Evidently Nicodemus was astounded by the things that

Jesus told Him.  Jesus said, "Marvel not!  Don't be so surprised!

This is a truth that is well illustrated in nature by the wind.

V.  8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the

sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither

it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

    You cannot see the wind.  Yet you can hear the sound of the

wind, but you cannot tell where the wind came from.  You can tell

the direction that it came from, but you do not know where that

wind came from.  Neither can you tell where the wind is going

after it leaves you.  But you do not question the fact that the

wind is real.  You know it is real because of the effects of the

wind.  Even a small breeze will cause the leaves to shake and

make you feel cooler.  A strong wind can uproot huge trees and

rip apart large buildings.

    One should not doubt and disbelieve things that are real just

because he cannot see them.  Not if he can see the evidence that

they are real.  Just as the wind produces evidence that it is

real even so the new birth produces evidence that it is real.  It

changes lives.  It causes men who were once foul-mouthed cursing

men into God-fearing, God-praising, praying men.  It turns sot

drunks into sober, godly men.   It causes women who once were

indecent and immoral to become upright, respectable, decent,

godly women.  It turns crooks into honest men.  It turns people

who were going to the dogw in this service?  Would you

trust Jesus right where you are and then step out trusting the

Lord Jesus Christ to save your soul?  If so, then come while our

people sing this invitation hymn.