‘Jesus answered, and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ John 3:3
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life”
In our study in the holy Gospel, we have seen that Jesus the Messiah was unique in His birth, in His character, and in His works. And in our last lesson, we recognized that
Never has there been another who has spoken such clear and deep words as He. Those who heard Him were astonished, because He taught them with an authority which their priests and teachers of the law did not have. A few words from the mouth of Jesus
were of greater value
than a multitude of words from their religious leaders. Because of this, most of the leaders of the Jews were not pleased with Jesus. Not only did He teach that which contradicted their traditions, but He also exposed their hypocrisy before all!
In our last lesson we heard Jesus’ sermon which He taught while up on a mountain with His disciples. His sermon can be summarised with six words. Those six words are:
Hypocrisy is disgusting to God and destructive to man. That is why Jesus said to the crowd, “Do not be like the hypocrites!” You know what it means to be a hypocrite. If someone pretends to be what they are not, he is a hypocrite. Jesus said that a hypocrite is like a whitewashed tomb; beautiful on the outside but full of uncleanness on the inside (Matt. 23:27).
No one can deceive God.
The Word of God says: “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (give account)” (Heb 4:13) Jesus, who knew the heart of man, saw the hypocrisy which was in the religious leaders, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. On the outside they were zealous in praying, fasting, and giving alms, but in their hearts they really did not love God and His Word. Consequently, all their “righteous” deeds and rituals were worthless. Thus, Jesus taught His disciples, saying: “And when thou prayest,
thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are;
for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and at the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matt. 6:5) “Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matt. 6:2) “Moreover, when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matt. 6:16)
For I say unto thee that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 6:5; 5:20)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Be perfect, therefore, as [God] your heavenly Father is perfect!” (Matt. 5:3,6,8,48)
“Enter in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in that way; because narrow is the gate, and hard is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13,14)
Thus the Lord Jesus exhorted the people to
choose the narrow way that leads to eternal life.
Did you grasp what Jesus said concerning the way of salvation? It is extremely important! What must a person be like if he is ever to see God, and live in God’s presence forever? What did Jesus say about this? In short, He said: “You must have a pure and perfect heart!”
But how can a child of Adam who was conceived in sin have a pure and perfect heart? Is there something he can do to cause his evil heart to be transformed into the pure heart that God requires? No!
“Even if a log soaks a long time in water it will never be transformed into a crocodile.” Similarly, we sinners cannot do anything to make ourselves pure before God. However, in the rest of this lesson, we will see that
what is impossible for man is possible for God!
Now let us continue reading in the Gospel to see how a certain religious ruler from Jerusalem by the name of Nicodemus came to talk with Jesus at night. Jesus showed him how a sinner can receive a new and pure heart and God’s gift of eternal life. The Scripture says: (John 3:1-16) “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it willeth, and thou hearest the sound of it, but canst not tell from where it cometh, and where it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him,
Jesus answered, and said unto him, Art thou a teacher of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that which we do know, and testify to that which we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven. And, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of man be lifted up,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life”.
Let us think a little about what the Lord Jesus told the religious ruler, Nicodemus. What did Jesus tell Nicodemus must happen before he could have eternal life and the right to live with God forever? He said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. You must be born again!”
No! That is why Jesus said to him, “Art thou a teacher of Israel, and knowest not these things? That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:10,6,7).
In brief, Jesus was telling Nicodemus that anyone who wants to see God and live in His holy presence throughout eternity
must be born twice!
That does not mean that you must enter a second time into your mother’s womb and be born again (physically). Being born again means that the Spirit of God must remake you, washing your heart and renewing you by His power (Titus 3:5). You must be born by the power that comes from heaven, which is completely different from the outward form of religion. You must be changed on the inside–-in your heart!
Whatever is born of Adam is stained with sin
and cannot have a part in the Kingdom of God. The children of Adam are powerless to remove the root of sin which grows in their hearts. Just as spending a long time in water does not transform a log into a crocodile, so also spending time performing religious rituals and doing good deeds can never make an evil heart pure. God Himself must work a miracle in your heart and renew it, because that which is perishable cannot inherit that which is imperishable! (see 1 Cor. 15:50) In short,
That is what Jesus taught the religious ruler, Nicodemus. But Nicodemus had difficulty understanding this. Thus, he asked Jesus: How can this be? How can I be born again and receive a new and pure heart?
Jesus answered him, “And, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have eternal life.
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.” (John 3:14-16)
To show Nicodemus how he could escape the judgement of hell and receive eternal life, Jesus reminded him what had happened to his ancestors in the wilderness in the time of the prophet Moses. As we saw in the Pentateuch, once when the children of Israel complained against God and Moses, God sent poisonous snakes among them to bite them so that many died. However, after the children of Israel repented, God commanded Moses to make a bronze snake and suspend it on a pole, so that
everyone who looked at it would be healed and not die.
Thus, Jesus was telling Nicodemus that just as the children of Israel had only to look in faith at the bronze snake on the pole to be saved from death, so the children of Adam only have to believe in the remedy that God has provided to save them from eternal punishment. We are all like the children of Israel who were bitten by the snakes. Satan is like a poisonous snake, and
sin is like the poison
which causes man to perish. Satan has bitten all the children of Adam, and the poison of sin will cause us to perish in hell forever if God does not give us a remedy! We have no possible means of saving ourselves from God’s judgement, because
But praise be to the LORD God—for just as He provided a remedy to save the children of Israel from the poison of the snakes—so also He has provided a remedy to save the children of Adam from “the poison” of sin.
Do you know God’s plan to restore and renew the hearts of the children of Adam, which are filled with sin?
What did the Lord Jesus say about this?
He said that the holy Redeemer must be lifted up on a pole (cross) in order to endure the penalty of sin for sinners—“that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life . . . and not perish!”
Who then can be saved? What does the Scripture say? It says: “Everyone who believes in Him . . . shall not perish!” In whom must we believe? We must believe in the Redeemer whom God has sent.
Do you believe in your heart that God, who does not want anyone to perish, sent Jesus the Savior down to earth for you, to bear for you your debt of sin? God’s righteous remedy for our problem of sin is
Jesus’ death on the cross.
The Scripture says:
“For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21)
God has not changed.
What the Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus about two thousand years ago, He still says to you today: “You must be born again!” God wants to cleanse and remake your heart and renew you by His power. However, you must believe His Good News. You must believe in the Messiah whom He sent. You must believe that Jesus, who never sinned,
paid for your debt of sin,
so that you can live in the presence of God forever. “You must be born again! … No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again!” Amen.
In the next lesson, God willing, we will continue in the Gospel and hear a conversation the Lord Jesus had with a woman who had five husbands.
‘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’
God bless you as you consider what Jesus the Messiah declared, saying, “
Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again!’” (John 3:7)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!” (Matthew 5:8)
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