"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”" (John 3:1-21)
Nicodemus was a man just like you and me. A man who heard of Jesus and knew He was someone special. A man who was curious and interested in learning more.
And Nicodemus was an intelligent man. He was a teacher, a religious ruler and a member of the Sanhedrin (similar to the Supreme Court of the United States). He knew enough to know that Jesus was unique - someone special - perhaps even sent by God. But his curiosity was not satisfied with just a passing knowledge. He needed to know more.
And so he went to meet Jesus at night. Perhaps he desired to go unnoticed by the cloak of darkness. We do not know. But the point should not be missed - while everyone else remained at home and created their own opinion of who Jesus was, Nicodemus left the safety of his surroundings to meet the great teacher in person. He did what we wish we could do and he asked the question most of us are asking as well: “Jesus, who are you?”
The answer Jesus gave may seem odd. “You must be born again,” he said.
That didn’t answer the question…or did it. It was as if Jesus was helping Nicodemus understand that who he was could not be understood like one who learns physics. Jesus is not a subject to be studied, He is a person to be known. If you want to understand physics, study the principles of physics. If you want to know God, then come to know Jesus.
Unlike the mystery and uncertainty of much in the world of physics, Jesus has gone to great lengths to reveal the mystery of his redeeming love for all the world to see. His death on the cross has been lifted high so that whoever believes, will not be punished for their sin but will be forgiven by the grace of God.
“It’s as simple as being born of water and Spirit,” Jesus tells Nicodemus.
Nicodemus knew well the water of baptism. John the Baptist had made that clear. “Repent,” he said, “Admit that you need a Savior. For you cannot be saved by some other god, you cannot be saved by your own efforts and you cannot claim ignorance because the truth has been revealed in Jesus. Choose today whom you shall follow. As for me and my house, we will follow Jesus.”
The repentance of John’s baptism is the beginning. One cannot believe in Jesus if they do not need a Savior. But once they admit a need, the way is made to be born of the Spirit. Born again!
As humans, we produce other humans. But only God, can give new life through freedom found in the Spirit. A Spirit that gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. A Spirit that releases us from the bondage of sin and gives us the power to follow Jesus with all our heart and soul. It is a light that reveals our path to knowing God. And without the Light, we cannot see truth.
But Jesus is a light we often avoid because the darkness of ignorance and disregard is much easier to accept. Ignorance is bliss…so they say. Darkness excuses our sin. But the light of Jesus exposes our need for a Savior. And once His light is revealed, every man is without excuse.
Be like Nicodemus. Don’t hide behind your accomplishments, influence and success. Do not be satisfied with ignorance. Seek to find Jesus and in your prayers, ask Him yourself, “Who are you?”
Read these verses again and again. For in them, he answers your question.