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'Demus Dialogue

Nicodemus, John 3   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The dialogue between Nicodemus and Jesus



Context is King

If we don’t get the context we miss too much of this---especially in common passages
Religious understanding of the day: God’s Chosen People; all would enter Heaven
Pharisees seemed to think they’d have preferred seating
A dugout box in baseball; front row 50 yd. line for NFL
They attempted to keep the rules…the traditions of the elders…flawlessly
Major sense of entitlement
Though surely there were faithful, believing Jews, the mass of the power structure was all about tradition
So far removed from relationships with God…Most of them didn’t realize how far from Him they were
Why did he come by night? Fear? Privacy? The only time he was free? A representation of his sin-darkened state?
A picture of the contrast of overall darkness of night/light of the world
Messages get made out of this…and they can’t be proven out from Scripture
It is silent on the matter
Jesus did not speak favorably of the Pharisees or Sanhedrin; they pretty much returned the favor; much conflict during Jesus’ ministry
“Kingdom of God” as used, better understood as the reign of God than a physical kingdom
Singular use in this passage for John
Entering the Kingdom = gaining eternal life

Word-Nerd Stuff

Word for again in born again could also mean from above
It is used both ways throughout the Gospel, apparent by its context…
Clearly Nicodemus understood it as again here
From above would be a Jewish way saying from God
Nicodemus’ reference to being old—latter stage of life
Geo. Bev. Shea’s “youth, middle age and boy, you’re lookin’ good!
Same word pneuma for wind and spirit
Note to remember for next week: All the you statements are singular, directed at Nicodemus
Next week we’ll see a change to plural
“y’all to “all y’all”

Main Idea: Laying a Foundation for the Faith

Jesus lays down a principle that is powerful—and a new thought to Jewish thought
There must be a spiritual act of transformation to bring one into the Kingdom of God
Without it, there is no salvation…period!
From here, He elaborates
We’ll talk about the Man, Message, Misunderstanding, and the Makings (of doctrine)


He’s a ruler of the people, an elder of the nation
Part of the ruling council; likely rich—at least very comfortable
Would have had the traditional view of day; but was open to a better understanding
He addresses Jesus as Rabbi
Shows humility, willingness to be taught
At very least, gave Jesus equal status as fellow rabbi
Shows what he’s made of—recognized he didn’t have all the answers
Obviously he had some misunderstandings—gave Jesus opportunity to explain
Acknowledges that Jesus is from God
Didn’t have it quite right; Jesus IS GOD
We see him again, obviously born again; with Joseph of Arimathea at the burial
We can wonder if the two of them discussed this guy who hung out with fishermen and was raising havoc among the religious elite!
The message had been received, he had been transformed by the Spirit: Born again

The Message

Born again concept familiar—proselytes to Judaism were considered as newborns
To tell a teacher of the Jews the HE needed to be reborn was a shocking statement
A Pharisee NOT going to have eternal life? Shocking!
To his credit, he stayed for the whole lesson
Had to learn about the rebirth being a spiritual thing…nothing physical


Can a man start life over? Clearly not his understanding of religious rebirth
Clearly misunderstood what a true new birth was all about
Water and the Spirit
This is a set thing…not two separate things
The Jewish understanding was keeping of the Law of Moses
Rules had developed—hundreds of them
Salvation had been a matter of rule-keeping—works-based
Faith was lost in function
There was a form of understanding of the nature of being clean—washing with water
No understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit
Spirit was not understood as a personal force
Historical note taken of OT episodes of the Spirit of God coming upon people
Exception, not the rule


How can a man be born a second time? Valid question
Not going to happen physically
Remember the understanding of again=from God/from above?
Two messages being conveyed here?
The imagery of water and Spirit
Lots of scholarly discussion on that
My spin is that water and Spirit are a combined force; a washing away of the old man by the Spirit
Good background is
Isaiah 44:3 ESV
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
However we understand it, the active force in the new birth is the Spirit
Without him we cannot be led to Christ; cannot trust Christ

The Other Piece of the Mystery

It was the Spirit of God (HOLY SPIRIT) that worked transformation in the heart of man but...
…how does anyone see the Spirit
Jesus gives analogy of the wind—can’t see it; but see its effects on all things
Thus with the Holy Spirit
Cannot see it enter a person;
You cannot see its source;
You cannot see its destination
But, you can see the change in the life of that person

Making of our Doctrine

Many false hope, concepts and statements about being born-again!
Some are “pretty close” to the truth—but still miss it
Many folks profess to be “born-again” when in fact they have merely a rough concept of Jesus, a folksy mentality about God, a moralistic life and some vague notion that they are OK
Others “said a prayer” or “walked an isle” or “raised a hand” in an emotional, yet uninformed response to a preacher’s invitation (sometimes good salesmanship)
…for whatever reason…but were never transformed by the Spirit
By way of faith in Jesus Christ
Acts 4:12 ESV
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
"What good does it do me if Christ was born in Bethlehem once if he is not born again in my heart through faith?" ~ Origen
…2nd-3rd century Alexandrian theologian
We must be born again to enter the the Kingdom of God
This new birth is of the Holy Spirit
John 3:8 ESV
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.”
It is transformational
The old is gone the new is come
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
We see the proof in Nicodemus
He was part of the burial process of Jesus—obviously now willing to be known as a Christ-follower
It endures
1 Peter 1:23 ESV
since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Have You Been Born Again

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