Jesus Encounter: Nicodemus (John 3)

MOTIVATE

–           Faith & Monopoly

  • Get out of Jail Free Card: Viewing faith as merely a release from trouble.
  • Free Parking: Viewing faith as reward deserves for being at right place (ie. going to church, doing good, etc.)
  • Paying Rent: Viewing faith as a task I must do, duty or drudgery
  • Playing Piece: Viewing faith as identity (hat, thimble, car, etc). Either you have an identity and are ‘in the game’ or you are a casual spectator who does not have an identity. Which are you?

EXAMINE             JOHN 3

This message will show why our faith rests in the person of Jesus. We will do so by examining a curiously religious man named Nicodemus. To start with Nicodemus was a Pharisee. Pharisees were a religious sect of Judaism that interpreted the Law with extreme careful exactitude (Josephus).

 

–          They sought strict adherence to the words of Scripture. They even went so far as to add traditions to the Law to assist in obedience to God.

–          Good Pharisees kept company with positive role models with good values (Matt 9:11),

–          practiced spiritual disciplines of prayer & fasting (Matt 9:14),

–          attended religious functions (Matt 12:2),

–          memorized Scripture (Matt 23:5),

–          influential among upper class and religious groups (Matt 23:7),

–          adventurous missionaries (Matt 23:15),

–          gave tithes (Matt 23:23),

–          morally pure (Matt 23:24-28),

–          knew only God forgave sin (Mark 2:7),

–          protected God’s name (Mark 2:7-8),

–          practiced religious traditions (Mark 7:5),

–          prayed for signs and miracles from heaven (Mark 8:11),

–          sought God’s wisdom on divorce and marriage (Mark 10:2),

–          paid government taxes (Mark 12:13-15),

–          practiced hospitality (Luke 11:37),

–          separated from evil influencers (Luke 18:11),

–          discerned true or false prophets (John 1:24)

–          condemned adultery (John 8:3),

–          investigated the legitimacy of healings and prophets (John 9:13),

–          and on top of all that had doctrinal truth believing the resurrection (Acts 23:8).

 

Pharisees sound a lot like today’s “Religious Right”. Nicodemus was a Pharisee yet he approaches Jesus with a question. One of the realities about religious people is that even they have unanswered questions. Nicodemus knew Jesus was from God because of the miracles and teaching He was doing. But his opinions about Jesus were not personal. He did not fully engage Jesus with commitment but with curiosity.
In this Jesus Encounter you can see 3 truths for why faith rests in the person of Jesus:

µ      Jesus has supreme authority (3:1-4)

Nicodemus approached Jesus with curiosity and perhaps some hesitation. Pharisees had authority among the Jews which is likely why Nic came to Jesus at night, to not diminish his own authority. As a Pharisee he was intrigued about Jesus’ teaching and actions. Jesus had just turned water into wine in purification vessels and also cleansed out the Jewish Temple, essentially claiming divinity (John 2). Yet, Nic viewed Jesus as a Rabbi (teacher) and a miracle worker from God; not necessarily or fully as being the Messiah.

Jesus’ responded with authority. In the original language, John used the words “Amen, Amen. I say unto you…” as a sign of Jesus’ assurance and certainty in His teaching. Jesus can be certain about the truth of His teaching because He is more than a Rabbi or prophet from God – He is God. Jesus is the divine Son of God, the Word Creator who became flesh to reveal the Father (John 1:1-3, 14-17).

                ~ Note: To affirm Jesus’ full divinity among the divinity is to reject every other cult & religion.

                                Jesus doesn’t do opinion polls; he states truth: “truly truly I say to you…”

Today there is great resistance to identify Jesus as more than a good teacher or messenger of God. However, when examining His teaching and His actions one can clearly see that He claimed to be God. So, to believe Jesus’ words is to believe the words of Almighty God. Jesus has the full authority of God who says you will see the kingdom of God and be set free from sin through a faith that is “born from above”. Being born from above means having a renewed and forgiven spirit, and a renewed authority to live under. Whether than living for self, you are now living for above – the kingdom of God. Therefore, your certainty of salvation does not come from your performance but from the power and person of Jesus.

ð       How do you respond to authority? Do you realize Jesus is not just Savior but also Lord?

µ      Jesus gives salvation awakening (3:5-21)

As Jesus continued to tell Nicodemus that he had to be born from above to see the kingdom of God, this caused confusion for Nicodemus. Nicodemus thought merely physical, thinking this meant he had to exit his mother’s womb a second time. Jesus gave further explanation saying that this new birth would not be physical but spiritual; “of water and the Spirit”.

God’s Holy Spirit brings an unidentifiable awakening in a person’s life. Jesus describes the Spirit as a blowing of the wind that is unpredictable yet unmistakable. 3 characteristics regarding God’s Spirit to bring awakening in your life:

God’s Holy Spirit cleanses (3:5)

A person “born from above” is born of water and the Spirit. John (again being deeply theological) joins these two to indicate a new creation (Gen 1:1); and a cleansing restoration (Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:24-27; 37:9-10)

Ezekiel 36:24-28 “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my just decrees. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

 

Rev 22:17 “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’. And let the one who hears say, ‘Come’. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

God’s Holy Spirit communicates (3:6-8)

God does not hide Himself from those who truly want to seek Him. John is showing in these Jesus Encounters that God is available (cf. 1:11-14). The Spirit blows through like wind for us to know and experience. God’s Spirit is available to all those who surrender to God on the basis of repentance and faith (v.15-18). Being born from above and awakened to new life is not another religious ritual to perform… raise hand… walk an aisle… check this box type of mentality. What Nicodemus needed and we all need is an awakening of Jesus in the very depths of our being. A new and cleansed heart. This is more than mental assent but a heartfelt devotion that forever changes your identity.

 

God’s Holy Spirit complements the Son’s actions (3:11-21)

Jesus shows that being born from above and of the Spirit is to recognize the identity of Jesus – the One whom descended from heaven to be lifted up and was sent by God to save all who would believe.

APPLY/THINK

John 3:16

“For  God so loved the world, that He gave His

         Only begotten

         Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not

         Perish, but have

         Everlasting

         Life”

For God                        the greatest being

So loved                       the greatest degree.

The world                      the greatest recipients

That He gave                 the greatest act

His one & only Son       the greatest cost

That whoever                 the greatest invitation

Believes in Him             the greatest faith movement

Shall not perish             the greatest deliverance

But have                       the greatest certainty

Eternal                          the greatest time

Life                               the greatest possession

WITHOUT JESUS = HELL

Hell is a literal place contra Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”.

Do you believe this?

–          Theological Universalism says no.

–          Functional Universalism says no too!

John 3:17-18

            Jesus sent to save

            No belief = condemnation

Religion is ingrained in psyche to approach God based on ritual or performance.

            ->Leaves you unsatisfied & uncertain (have I done enough?)

Christianity gives acceptance and affection by God based on Jesus’ performance.

            -> Leaves you complete and confident in grace

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