John 3:1-8 HOW TO ENTER THE
a recent text Jesus went into the temple 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
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
information for all mankind. Everybody needs to know how to
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
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
however, allow the Jews to rule in all matters pertaining to
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
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
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
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.