For March 20, 2022
Nicodemus was a Pharisee.1 He was also a member of the Sanhedrin.2 He yearned to meet Jesus Christ so he could talk privately—and listen. Although the Sanhedrin opposed Jesus, and that such a meeting meant social and political suicide, Nicodemus saw this as an opportunity to answer the questions: “Is what I hear about this Teacher true? Is Jesus our long-awaited Messiah?”
Jesus’ response to his esteemed guest was simple yet comprehensive,
Jesus answered and said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3 (NKJV)
Jesus’ words may seem odd at first glance. Why not speak on world events, Roman domination, the plight of the Jewish Nation, or say something absolutely and utterly profound? Why talk about being Born Again, and why is this topic so crucial?
Scriptures can give us clues to the answer,
- We, as humans, were created in the image of God. Our unique purpose was to have unbridled, eternal fellowship with our holy God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…God saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1:1, 31 (NKJV)
- Although we were made in God’s image, we disobeyed Him and “Fell” from our holy and happy state. As a result, sin entered the world, and death through sin.
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV)
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6-7 (NIV)
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners. Romans 5:19 (NIV)
- The sinful plight of humanity requires the efficacious work of a Promised Redeemer.
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. Genesis 3:15 (NLT)
He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:3-6 (NKJV)
- This Promised Redeemer would shed His blood for the remission of our sins.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Leviticus 17:11 (NKJV)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God… Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Romans 5 1-2, 9 (NIV)
In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)
To illustrate our need for a Redeemer, Jesus relates to Nicodemus the story of the Children of Israel in the wilderness in Numbers 21:4-9. Fiery serpents bit Moses’ rebels, and many of them died. They asked for a remedy, and the Lord instructed Moses to create a brass serpent and raise it on a pole. Those who looked at the brass serpent were miraculously healed.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that He, likewise, would be “lifted up.” Whoever looks to Him by faith would be healed spiritually and given eternal life. Faith is our means of receiving God’s forgiveness and righteousness. This is consistent with two fundamental Old Testament Scriptures:
- And [Abraham] believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6 (NLT)
- Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV)
Some have said the distance between Heaven and Hell is twelve to eighteen inches—the distance between the human head and the human heart. We may have the intellectual facts concerning Jesus Christ. But “head knowledge” is not enough. One must have “heart knowledge” through faith in Jesus as the Promised Redeemer as well.
With such a faith, we can experience a dynamic, spiritual transformation (Born Again) that makes us righteous before God and eligible to see and enter the Kingdom of God. We confess our sins before God. Then we repent or turn from the continual practice of sinful behavior. We turn from sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, and His Spirit makes His abode within us. He now can enable us to function according to our original design. Just as 2 Corinthians 5:17 relates, we are now “new creatures” in Christ.
As new creations, loving God and pleasing Him is our all-consuming, lifelong objective. Our new aim is to emulate our Lord and live for Him to the best of our ability for the rest of our lives. We are the “living proof” of God’s marvelous plan of redemption, whereby Jesus Christ can transform a sinful and fallen humanity into the very likeness of Christ to become the Children of God, as John writes,
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12–13 (KJV).
Our faith is in Christ, an everlasting, sure and steadfast hope as this old hymn attests,
My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less3
Edward Mote (1834)
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Dressed in His righteousness, alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.
Sinful, fallen, human lives can change drastically in the presence of the Living Christ, and drastically changed lives, or those that are Christ-centered and Spirit-controlled will think, speak, and act in ways that will honor the Lord and benefit others.
Changed, Born Again lives have hearts that delight in the Lord. We love Him and find our truest pleasure and satisfaction—not in the tings of the world—but in being in a loving fellowship with our true and living God.
As we grow in Him. We learn that Christ has everything that can delight us perfectly. Thus, we can find our most fulfilled wishes and deepest abiding joys. And as we love Him and find our delight in Him, His perfect will is desired, as His abiding peace, joy, and tranquility fill our souls. Won’t you give your heart to Jesus and experience New Life, and be Born Again in Him? He can give you eternal peace and satisfaction in this life and the next.
What a Wonderful Savior!
- Pharisees were the largest and most influential religious sect during the time of Christ. They were the ceremonial purists and religious traditionalists for God’s chosen people, Israel.
- The Sanhedrin was the supreme Jewish authority and consisted of Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, a priest, and the presiding high priest. Like our three branches of our US government, this assembly provided governance for all public matters, both civic and religious.
- Edward Mote, “My Hope Is Built,” The New National Baptist Hymnal, 33rd printing, T.B. Boyd, ed., (Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1977), 223.