A Successful Delivery
John 3:1-21 (NIV)
1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
4“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16“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. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
A maternity ward. Who will make it through to a successful delivery.
I. The Problem of Death (Vv. 1-10)
A. Need of Mature Faith
--An intellectual Faith is not enough. It is not enough just to believe that Jesus is sent from God, but it must apply the purpose of His coming to oneself personally.
B. Need of Spiritual Birth
--An absolute must!
--Do Not be astonished! You are dead. If you do not know you are dead, how will you find life?
II. The Provision for Life (Vv. 11-15)
A. The Witness to the Living Son
B. The Work of the Lifted Son
Illust.: Light looked down and saw darkness, "there will I go," said light
Life looked down and saw death, "there will I go," said life
Love looked down and saw despair, "there will I go," said love
So came light and shown truth, so came life and conquered death
so came love and gave hope, and "the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us"
--- Daniel L. Akin, The Southern Seminary Magizine, Winter 1997,8.
Illust.: A little girl was rescued from a burning house by her mother. The flames came so close that the very hands and arms that shielded the baby from the deadly fire were permanently scarred in the process. As the girl grew older, she became conscious of the fact that her mother's hands and arms didn't look like those of other women. She thought they were ugly. She was so ashamed of her mother's appearance that she didn't want to be seen with her in public. One day the mother told her daughter about the fire. When the daughter realized that her own life had been spared because her mother sacrificed the beauty of her hands and arms, she said, "Mother you have the most beautiful hands in the world." Her perspective changed when she understood the effect of the sacrifice.
III. The Passage of Light (Vv. 16-21)
A. A Personal Trust in Christ
Illust.: Two travelers, who fancied they were abundantly able to take care of themselves, entered a railroad passenger car when the train was being made up and found comfortable seats. They had dropped into conversation when a porter looked in and told them to go forward. "What is the matter with this coach?" they asked. "Nothing," he grinned, "only 'tain't coupled onto anything that'll take you anywhere."
That is the trouble with many beautiful creeds and theories. They sound good, but they do not take you anywhere. The soul that would journey heavenward must make sure of the coupling. That is it: "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." --Heart And Life
B. A Turn from Darkness to Light
Illust.: When the Bastille, a castle-like prison in Paris, was about to be destroyed in 1789, a convict was brought out who had been confined in one of its gloomy cells for many years. But instead of joyfully welcoming his liberty, he begged to be taken back. It had been such a long time since he had seen the sunshine that his eyes could not endure its brightness. His only desire was to die in the murky dungeon where he had been a captive. In the same way, some men continue to reject the Savior until they eventually become so hardened in their sin that they prefer the
dark ways of eternal death.
Illust.: I once walked into a garden with a lady to gather some flowers. There was one large bush whose branches were bending under the weight of the most beautiful roses. We both gazed upon it with admiration. There was one flower on it which seemed to shine above all the rest in beauty. This lady pressed forward into the thick bush and reached far over to pluck it. As she did this a black snake which was hidden in the bush wrapped itself around her arm. She was alarmed beyond all description and ran from the garden screaming and almost in convulsions. During all that day, she suffered very much with fear; her whole body trembled and it was a long time before she could be quieted. That lady is still alive. Such is her hatred now of the whole serpent race that she has never since been able to look at a snake even though it were dead. No one could ever persuade her to venture again into a cluster of bushes even to pluck a beautiful rose.
Now this is the way those who are born of God react to sin. They think of sin as the serpent that once coiled itself round them. They hate it. They dread it. They fly from it. They fear the places it inhabits. They do not willingly go into its haunts. They will no more play with sin than this lady would afterwards have fondled snakes. --Bishop Meade
Do not continue to live in the darkness. Turn from the darkness into the light through faith in the Son sent by the Father that you will have Life by the Spirit!