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John 3:1-10

These verses I have read about Nicodemus stand in stark contrast to the last three verses found in John 2. (Read John 2:23-25).

• The folks in John 2:23-25 lacked commitment to Jesus. They followed Jesus around, not because they were committed to Him, but for the thrill of watching Him perform miracles and for what they could get out of it.

• What a thrill to see Him open blinded eyes or calm a storm or feed 5,000 with a sack lunch.

• But Jesus knew their heart and their motive for following Him and knew they lacked commitment to Him.

• What a contrast when we come to John 3 and see Nicodemus. In fact, the Greek has it in verse one, “But there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus.”

• In contrast to those who lacked commitment, Nicodemus was looking for a commitment.

• John 3:2 makes it clear that Nicodemus had heard Jesus teach and had seen Him perform miracles and he knew there was something different about Jesus. Jesus must have come from God! Of course, Jesus was God. Nicodemus just didn't know it!

Look at this man, Nicodemus, for just a moment. What sort of man was he?

1. He was a Pharisee

- The Pharisees came into existence during the 400 “Silent Years” between the Old Testament

and New Testament.

- The name “Pharisee” means “separated one.” They were the guardians of both the written

and oral law.

- But their great error was that their's was only an external religion. They conformed outwardly

to the law, but there was no inward change of the heart.

2. He was a ruler of the Jews.

That means that he was a member of the Sanhedrin, the religious governing body of the Jews, made up of 70-72 of the older, most respected men of his day.

3. Verse 10 says that he was a Master Teacher – one with authority. His opinion could sway a vote. Other folks quoted his words. He was at the top of the religious ladder, looking down.

What an impressive resume! He was religious, respected, recognized and most likely rich.

• He knew all about God in his head. He thought he was living for God and obeying God. But he didn't know that he didn't know God. He was lost and didn't know it. He thought he was right with God, but he wasn't.

• Although he didn't know that he didn't know God, he had some positive things going for him:


1. He had an open mind – He was willing to learn.

- All the other Pharisees condemned Jesus without ever hearing Him. They didn't want to

believe Jesus so they closed their mind.

- It's easy to close your mind to the truth you don't want to accept.

2. He was earnest and serious about wanting to know the truth. He came for conscience sake; not


3. He had a hungry heart.

He was religious, but never satisfied. He had given his life to religion, but it hadn't quenched the deep thirst of his soul. He had been dissatisfied in his soul for years and seeing and hearing Jesus only deepened his dissatisfaction.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night because he was afraid of what his fellow Pharisees would think of him – But he came, nonetheless.

Nicodemus pays Jesus a compliment, but Jesus didn't even acknowledge it. Jesus saw his real need and said, “Nicodemus, unless you are born again, you will never see the Kingdom of God. You will never find the peace and joy and salvation you want so badly.”

Keep in mind that Nicodemus was the first person to ever hear the term “born again.” We know the terminology. What if we had never heard the term before?

• Look at Nicodemus' response: 3:4, 9

• Look at our Lord's response: 3:5-7, 10

Nicodemus didn't know that he didn't know. Jesus told him that he should know. Both Ezekiel (18:31-32) and Jeremiah (32:38-39) declares that God will give you a new heart. “You ought not to marvel or be surprised that I told you that you must be born again.”

I. The Must of the New Birth 3:7

There was a time that whenever the preacher mounted the pulpit, his message centered around the new birth and they dealt with the matter of being born again on a regular basis.

• Now we talk about attending church, and that's good, but I'm afraid that many who attend church every week have not been born again.

• We talk about Jesus – His stories and teachings and the fact that He came to seek and to save that which was lost, but many have not been born again.

• Jesus said, “You must be born again.”

• Why must we be born again? Because if we have not experienced the new birth personally we will spend an unending eternity in hell.

• If we have only been born physically, we are spiritually dead and we need spiritual life and that comes only by being born again.

• We not only need a Savior who can forgive our sins, but one who can also impart new life – give us a new birth.


1. The Must of the New Birth is Universal 3:3, 5 (a man)

“A man” means any man and every man.

2. The Must of the New Birth is Imperative

- Verse 3 – He cannot see – He's Blind

- Verse 5 – He cannot enter – He's Excluded

Every man must be born again because without the new birth he is defiled – depleted – dead – and doomed – 3:18.

II. The Meaning of the New Birth

A. It is a Divine Birth

Jesus uses three illustrations to explain the new birth:

1. Water 3:5-7

- What is the water that Jesus refers to? Three possibilities:

a. Some say that Jesus is referring to the Word of God.

The Word of God is powerful and it does cleanse, but if you take this in context as it

related to birth, I don't think that is what is meant here.

b. Some say that the water refers to Baptism.

- Water is never used as a picture of birth in the Bible. It is used as a picture of death. It

pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, but not His birth.

- Some have put their faith in baptism rather than in Christ to save them.

- Salvation is not through water, but through the shed blood of Christ.

c. In the context, I believe Jesus is talking about physical birth. Before a child is born, the

water sack must be broken for there to be life.

Physical life is a once in a life-time experience and spiritual birth is a once in a life-time

experience. Just as you are born physically when the water sack is broken, you are born

spiritually by the Spirit.

2. Wind 3:8

- The word wind and spirit and breath of God all come from the same Greek word – “Pneuma”

- “So is everyone who is born of the breath of God.” As God breathed into Adam and he

became a living soul, the Spirit breathes His life into us.

a. The wind is Independent

- You don't know where the wind starts from – three blocks away or three miles away – you

don't know where it is going to stop.

- You can't see can see the results of wind and feel the effects.

- Wind goes where it pleases.


b. The wind is Inexpensive – a gift from God. You can't buy or earn it.

c. The wind is Indisputable.

Though you can't see it, you can't deny it because you can feel and see the effects.

3. Wilderness 3:14-15 Speaks of looking in faith upon the substitute judged for our sins.

- They looked and lived by faith.

- There was not necessarily an outward change in appearance, but there was an inward change.

B. It's a Dynamic Birth

That word “again” is the Greek word “Anothen” and it has three meanings:

1. You must be born Again.

- This is a brand new birth. As you were born physically, so you must be born again

spiritually...from a heavenly source.

- When my son was born, his was a birth from an earthly experience. When one is born

again, that Birth is from a heavenly source. It is an act of God whereby eternal life is


2. You must be born from Above (Spirit)

- Romans 8:9b, 16

- About 6 months after Janice and I were married I was going to preach from these verses. I

asked her how the Spirit of God bore witness to her spirit that she was saved. She said that

He did not bear witness to her because she was not saved. That night she invited Jesus into

her heart.

3. You must be born Anew 2 Corinthians 5:17

- No matter how good or bad you may have been before you are saved, when you are saved

a change takes place in your heart and life.

- Rosie at Sturgis had been the only woman on a Miss. River boat for 20 years...the play

thing of the men. One night in revival she was saved. After the service some men told me

that even God couldn't change her. The next year I was back in revival and she brought

someone to Jesus each night. When I asked her if Jesus really changed her life, she told

me what a wonderful change Jesus made in her.

III. The Merit of the New Birth

In this service Jesus offers you the same privilege that He offered Nicodemus 2,000 years ago. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, you can be born again personally.

There is life in a look of faith upon the crucified One.

Salvation is every man's supreme privilege offered by the Lord Jesus.

• I say privilege because Satan tries to make men think that salvation is something to be feared, to be put off as long as possible; that salvation is something that you don't want.


• Satan wants you to hang on to your old life, like your old life is honorable and satisfying.

Jesus tells us in this same chapter of John why people don't come to Him – 3:19-20; 5:40

What if you don't come to Jesus – 3:18, 36; Matthew 7:21-23; 25:41

• Is there a tug of war going on between your head and your heart?

• The sure promise of God is this: “Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.”