Based on John chapter 3 verses 1 to 21
A visit at Night
Jesus was a popular man, people wanted to – just be around Him! So it was hard for the serious religious leader to find the time and place to meet with Him. And what if you were one of THE top religious leaders? What would people think if you spent a long time debating religious matters in full view of all the ordinary non-religious types? That would never do. So Nicodemus decided the best time for him to go and see Jesus would be at night!
Nicodemus didn’t know what to expect as he made his way through the deserted streets. The cool night air made him pull his cloak tighter around his shoulders. Who was Jesus? God was certainly working through Him, and, He was a good teach – even though He’d never been to any religious schools.
Shortly after knocking on the door, Nicodemus found himself standing before the smiling Jesus. He cleared his throat and started to speak, ‘Teacher, we realise that God has sent you to teach us. That much is obvious from the miracles that you’ve done…’
But before he could say anything else, Jesus replied. ‘I’m going to tell you something that’s absolutely true! Unless you’re born again, you can never see God’s Kingdom.’
Born again? What was Jesus talking about? How could anyone be born twice – it didn’t make any sense! ‘What’re talking about?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘How can an old man get back inside his mother to be born a second time?’
But Jesus wasn’t talking about being born a second time from your mother. He was talking about becoming something new – becoming a child of God and having the right to be part of God’s Kingdom! So He said, ‘the truth is this. No one can enter God’s Kingdom – unless they’ve been born of water and the Spirit. You see, human beings can only reproduce human beings, but the Holy Spirit gives an entirely new life to people – directly from heaven. That’s what I was talking about when I said, you must be born again. (P)
All this was a bit much for Nicodemus, ‘But what do you mean?’ he asked.
‘Don’t you understand?’ Jesus replied. ‘If anyone should understand it’s you, you’re a top Jewish teacher?’
And then Jesus started to talk about something that happened many years earlier when Moses was alive. (P) One time in the wilderness, the Israelites angered God with their moaning. To punish them, God sent poisonous snakes that killed many. Then, the people cried out to God to forgive them and save them. So God told Moses to make a large bronze model of a poisonous snake and put it on a pole so that everyone could see it. And God promised that if anyone who’d been bitten by a poisonous snake – looked up at the bronze snake – they’d recover and be saved from certain death.
‘You see,’ Jesus continued, ‘as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole (He was talking about His crucifixion yet to come) and everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.’
Ah! Eternal life? So being born again was the same as having eternal life – and it all came through believing in Jesus! Like in the wilderness with those poisonous snakes. Everyone who looked to the bronze snake on a pole had their lives saved because they believed what God’d told them. And now Jesus was saying that when anyone looked to Him, believing what He said – they’d have eternal life! (P) But why would God want to do this when we’re all so bad?
‘God loves the people of this world so much,’ Jesus carried on. ‘That He gave the most important thing He had to save them, His Son, so that everyone who believes in God’s Son won’t perish, instead they’ll get eternal life!’
‘You see, everyone who trusts God’s Son won’t have to face God’s judgement. But, those who don’t trust him have already been judged – because they won’t believe in the only Son of God.’
As Nicodemus went back out into the cold night air after talking with Jesus, I wonder what he’d made of it all? But one thing he must have learnt was that he needed to born again. Not from his own mother, but from the Spirit of God. He’d thought he was safe, right with God because he was an Israelite, and not only that, but one of their top religious leaders. But now he knew that wasn’t enough, because – no matter how religious he was, if he wasn’t born again by the Spirit of God – he didn’t belong to God.