Perhaps one of the most interesting conversations that ever took place is found in John 3. Every time I read it, I am amazed by Jesus’ words. For those of you who are not familiar with the story, a man named Nicodemus came to see Jesus. Nick came to Jesus under the cover of night, most likely due to his fear of being caught. There is also a possibility that the writer of John (John) was trying to convey that Nick was not saved (in the light) at this point.
One would think that Jesus, who is love incarnate, would spend all night attempting to woo Nicodemus into believing in Him, but that is not the case. Jesus was anything but welcoming. In fact, Jesus called out Nicodemus’ ignorance and held him accountable for his lack of understanding. On top of that he said things like, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Huh? What is Jesus saying? What does birth have to do with God’s Kingdom?
Jesus is saying that before you see, you must be born. Birth comes before seeing. No birth, no sight. Still confused? How about this?
- John 3:13-15 – “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
How does this help? One thing you have to know is that Nick was “the teacher of Israel” so he knew this story very well. This story is found in Numbers 21. There we are told that Israel “spoke against God and against Moses.” God punished Israel by sending fiery serpents among the people. When these serpents bit the people they died. The solution was that God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. If someone was bitten by the fiery serpent, they were to look at the serpent and live. So picture it. Someone is in their home and they are bitten by a snake. At that moment they have to make a decision, believe that the Bronze Serpent has power or don’t. If they believe, they run to the center of the camp and look at the Bronze Serpent on the pole. If they don’t believe, they wait and die. So with this in mind think about what Jesus says to Nick in verse 18.
- John 3:18 – “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.“
The truth is that we have all been bitten by sin. The question is will we sit around and wait for death? Or do we believe in Christ and run to the cross and set our eyes upon Jesus who became sin for us? So the question now becomes how does that come about? How do we believe and see our sinfulness and Jesus as our Savior? Remember what we saw earlier, seeing only comes after being born. Therefore, everything rests on this birth. What is this birth and how does it happen?
- John 3:7-8 – “Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Our birth is a spiritual birth; the spiritual birth that gives us spiritual eyes; eyes that see and believe in Christ. So how does this birth occur? Jesus says the fate of our birth is left up to the wind, “the wind blows were it wishes.” Jesus is saying the wind has a will, and this will is self-determined. The wind can blow wherever it wants. It is not reactionary. It is the instigator. What is this wind that has such great power to birth us into seeing Jesus as our salvation? The Holy Spirit; "So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (Verse 8). Capital "S".
It is the Holy Spirit that blows into our lives and births us into spiritual life with spiritual eyes and causes us to see the power of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit that holds our destiny in his hands, and this is what Jesus explains to Nick when he shows up late at night and wants to talk about God. Isn't this interesting? Instead of giving Nick the sinner’s prayer, Jesus gives him truth. The truth that Nick’s fate rests in the hands of God, maybe it will blow in, maybe it won’t.
So what happened with Nicodemus? Were Jesus’ words of truth too abrasive? Did these truths cause one of God’s sheep to slip through the hands of Christ? No. Look who shows up after Jesus is lifted up on a cross.
- John 19:38-39 - “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.”
This is what we need to remember, Christian. It is not our role to tickle ears, but to proclaim God’s power in the salvation of man. We must trust the Gospel. We must trust the Truth. In Truth there is freedom, freedom from the bite of sin. If we proclaim what Christ proclaimed, the sheep will hear His voice and come home.