Word of Jesus was beginning to get around, now. The miracle at the wedding in Galilee was a big deal and the people who saw it happen weren’t keeping quiet about it. The clearing of the temple marketplace had gotten the attention of a lot of people, too, especially the religious leaders of the day. After all, who knew more than they did what the Scriptures said about the coming Messiah. They had to wonder who this man from Galilee really was.
One of these Pharisees saw something in Jesus that needed further examination so he approached Him under the cover of night. Nicodemus knew all about God, but did he really know Him? When Nicodemus came to Jesus, his lack of understanding was obvious. “We know that you have come from God as a teacher,” he said. Even though the religious leaders recognized that Jesus was sent by God, they couldn’t see who He really was or why He really came, so Jesus set the record straight.
“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” – John 3:3 NLT
“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” – John 3:6 NLT
When Jesus told Nicodemus that only people who are born again can see the kingdom of God, Nicodemus was perplexed. Born again? How can someone be born a second time? They can’t re-enter their mother’s womb. But Jesus was not talking about physical birth. He was talking about spiritual birth. A new birth that comes through Jesus Christ alone.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. – 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23 NIV
Nicodemus was still confused. “How can these things be?” He asked Jesus. He did not understand because he and the other Pharisees had been so focused on the law that they were missing the lawgiver. So, Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus why He came using an analogy that would have been familiar to this expert in the Scripture.
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.” – John 3:14-15 NIV
Jesus reminded Nicodemus about a time when God had stepped in to save the people from the consequences of their rebellion. Generations ago, when the Jewish forefathers were wandering in the desert, they constantly struggled with rebellion. No matter what God had done to show Himself faithful, when things weren’t going the way they wanted the Israelites would rebel and turn away from God. During one such rebellion, God sent a plague of poisonous snakes to punish them. A bite from one of these snakes led to death. (Numbers 21:4-9)
When people started dying from the snake bites, they begged Moses to intercede for them so that they could be saved. They acknowledged their sin, they cried out to be rescued, and God stepped in with a plan. Looking forward to the salvation that He would one day provide for all people, God had Moses raise up a bronze replica of a snake so that anyone bitten could look to it and avoid death.
In the same way, each of us has been bitten by the poisonous snake of sin. The bite is deadly and apart from God’s intervention, there is no cure. But because God loves us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to be lifted up on a cross to die for our sins. The only cure for the deadly venom of sin is to look to Jesus for salvation.
“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.” – John 3:16 NIV
This is God’s salvation plan. This is the gospel message. It is black and white. There is no gray area. Your sin has already condemned you, but God has provided a rescue plan. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved. Refuse to believe and you remain condemned. (John 3:18)
Once Nicodemus heard the gospel message, he had a choice to make. Like Nicodemus, each of us has a choice to make and indecision is fatal. We can either choose to remain in our sin and die. Or we can choose to turn to Jesus and have eternal life.
“And the judgement is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” – John 3:19 NLT