I’m doing a verse by verse series on Wednesday night’s at the church I pastor, Faith United Church, Hempstead Texas. This is this coming Wednesday night’s sermon.

JOHN PART 8
THE CONTINUED CONVERSATION WITH NICODEMUS
John 3:9-21

John 3:9-21 NKJV – 9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

INTRO: Last week we started looking at the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus as he came to visit Jesus at night. As, stated last week, it is my belief that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, not because he was embarrassed to be seen in public with Jesus, because we saw that in John 7:45-52 he stands in defense of Jesus later, wanting to make sure he gets a fair hearing. I believe he came to Jesus at night because that was the only way to get any alone time with him, so that outside of the crowds during the day, he could visit with Jesus face to face.

As Nicodemus begins visiting with Jesus, Jesus gets straight to the point – telling Nicodemus, that he must be born again, anew, or from above to see the kingdom of God. Because of the tradition that Nicodemus was a part of Phariseeism, this totally through him off and he was confused completely. So Jesus uses a couple of natural illustrations to explain it. One was flesh gives birth to flesh, Spirit gives birth to spirit. The other was the Spirit and the wind. While you cannot see the wind, you can see and feel the effects of the wind and so it is with the Spirit.

Now let’s continue on in this conversation.

1. The further confusion of Nicodemus.

Verses 9-13 NKJV – 9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

At this point in the conversation, Nicodemus is more than a little confused, he is getting frustrated I believe, look at his response in v. 9 – “How can these things be?”I don’t think that Nicodemus is really not accepting what Jesus is saying so much, as he just don’t understand what he is saying. Here is Nicodemus, a very educated man during this first century time period, and here is the Rabbi from Galilee, who is not educated in the Sabbath Schools of Judaism or Phariseeism and yet he is saying things that are over the head of Nicodemus.

In our culture, the same problem can erupt with both non-believers as well as religious Christians. We live in a reward, earning culture. There isn’t really anything for free now and days. You get rewarded, or paid even, for work done or earned. Not so with the Born again experience. New birth comes through faith in Jesus Christ and too the religious and the non-believers in our culture, it really sounds to good to be true. How can people possibly understand? Well, it takes the Holy Spirit drawing, wooing doing a work in the person’s heart, bringing understanding.

Now notice that Jesus recognizes that Nicodemus was a teacher of Israel. He doesn’t deny Nicodemus position, but Jesus wonders why Nicodemus doesn’t know these things. Why did He say this? Because although the words Jesus use, “Born again,” or even, “New birth,” was new to Nicodemus hearing, the concept of God giving the Jews, and all man for that matter a new heart and a new spirit was spoken of in Scriptures.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 NKJV – 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Now there is a important principle and application here: Just because a person maybe has a degree in theology or is even just real knowledgable in the Bible does not mean that they truly have experienced the New Birth in Christ. It takes much more than just head knowledge. Like I said earlier, it takes the Holy Spirit to draw, woo, and compel and bring revelation.

Jesus declares that the witness as been heard and rejected.

Verses 11-12 NKJV – 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Notice that Jesus uses the pronoun “we.” Scholars debate what this means. Although I personally think Jesus is saying basically, that Moses and the Law, the Prophets, and Jesus Himself testify about what they have seen and what they know. You see, the Moses and the Prophets testified about the coming of the Messiah. They were in agreement concerning His coming. Now the Messiah has come, He is testifying concerning Himself through His teachings, as well as the signs being performed, and yet the Pharisee’s and many amongst the Jews were not receiving or accepting of Him. If they couldn’t understand the parables and the earthly analogies that Jesus spoke about, how could they understand if He spoke of heavenly things? The “you,” in the passage is not singular, but plural. So Jesus had moved beyond just talking about and to Nicodemus, but also to those who as well are having a hard time understanding and accepting Him.

Jesus tells Nicodemus where He came from.

Verse 13 NKJV – No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

Nicodemus, in his confusion, cannot understand the earthly things that Jesus is stating, much less the heavenly things. How could this man standing before Nicodemus, possibly explain to him heavenly things. Well the answer is in this verse. It is because Jesus came from heaven. He had been there. He is an eyewitness of heaven. No one else could authoritatively explain to Nicodemus, or anyone else for that matter, heavenly things except the one who came from heaven itself – Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth for more than to explain heavenly things, or even to perform signs. He has another reason that He came as well.

2. Jesus explains His mission.

John 3:14-15 NKJV – 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus now explains His mission by using an illustration straight from the Law itself, Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness

Numbers 21:4-9 NKJV – 4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” 6 So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Basically, the Children of Israel complained, and the Lord sent these serpents that when bitten by them, the Children of Israel would die. Moses became their intercessor, or go between, or advocate, and the Lord told Moses to put a bronze serpent up on a pole, and those who looked at the bronze serpent lifted up would live.

Jesus is not talking about being lifted up in praise, or in actions, or even in conversation. He is talking about His death. He is literally saying that He would be lifted up on a cross much the same way the bronze serpent was lifted up on the pole, and whoever believes in Him, and accepts His sacrifice, would not perish, but live.

3. Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it.

Verses 16-18 NKJV – 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus was given, or sent by the Father to this world for one emphatic reason – because of God’s love for sinners. It was because this love that God gave the ultimate gift and sacrifice – His only begotten, or one and only, unique Son – Jesus Christ.

Those who accept Jesus and this Sacrifice are saved. God’s plan was to make salvation available to all and a free gift to all who will believe in His Son – Jesus Christ.

The purpose that Jesus came was not for judgment, or condemnation, but for complete and total salvation. This concept was totally foreign to first century Phariseeism and Judaism. The Jews believed that the Messiah would be sent to judge the nations that rose up against Israel, not to save Israel and the nations from judgment and condemnation.

Those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ, stand condemned already. Why? Because those who refuse to accept the only Sacrifice and Atonement for sin, have no other Atonement or Sacrifice offered, and thereby already stand condemned in their sins.

4. Two opposing principles – darkness and light.

Verses 19-21 NKJV – 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

The motivation of darkness is their evil deeds.

Verse 19 NKJV – And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Why is it that people turn away from God and do not want to have anything to do with Him? It is because there deeds, or actions are evil by nature. It is because people are in sin and they want to remain in that condition, and they will reject anything that points out the sin in their lives. You see, light exposes darkness. Which leads us to our next point.

Darkness hates the Light.

Verse 20 NKJV – For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

The non-believer hates the light because it exposes the darkness that it in them. You see, while the Gospel is the good news, and it is free, it is also something that demands a decision, and if accepted, a change occurs and continues to occur.

The one who has been changed by the Light.

Verse 21 NKJV – But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

You see, the one who has been changed by the light of the Gospel, is not afraid of condemnation when their deeds are exposed. Why? Because the truth will set us free as we listen to it, obey it and apply it to our lives.

CONCL: This concludes Jesus conversation with Nicodemus. I’d like to say that Nicodemus accepted the words of Jesus here, but sadly I can’t. There is no Scriptural evidence that Nicodemus went away completely understanding, and therefore completely believing in Jesus here. Perhaps, he came to believe later, but at this time, I believe he left in the same confusion as he had.

But the good news is that Jesus planted a seed into His heart that the Holy Spirit could work on. I’m sure he thought over what Jesus said and when back to the Old Testament to look at Moses and the Prophets. He was a seeker and a searcher.

We must do the same thing. Share the Gospel, even it they don’t accept or understand, you have planted a seed the Holy Spirit can work in their hearts. You continue to pray for that person, that God would bring them to the light, and be available to be used further by the Holy Spirit if need by.

Next time, we will look some more at John the Baptist.

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