John Lesson 4 Day 2
3. a. Likely reasons Nicodemus came to visit Jesus.
Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” John 3:2 ESV
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the religious governing body of the Jews known as the Sanhedrin. He was educated, Nicodemus is a Greek name, and a ruler, so he was influential.We also know he was rich because of the costly spices he brought to anoint the body of Jesus for burial (John 19:39).
He was surely one of the many who saw the signs Jesus performed at the temple. (John 2:23) He knew the scriptures and recognized the zeal and authority Jesus displayed as He cleansed the temple (John 2:15-16).
Jesus’ prophecy about himself alarmed them. “. . . Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19 ESV
Guzik writes, “Nicodemus came to Jesus as a representative of all men (John 2:23-25), and in a sense he represented what is highest and best in men.”
His visit to Jesus at night.
Was Nicodemus timid, afraid or embarrassed because of his peers, or was he using wisdom to escape persecution? Perhaps he wanted to talk to Jesus without interruption.
As a Pharisee, his view of Jesus was different than the crowds. He came seeking answers.
Jewish DNA does not entitle or enable anyone to see spiritual truths or enter the kingdom of God. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV
b. Why I seek Jesus
He is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) He is the only way to the Father, and I want to know Jesus and the Father and Holy Spirit. I also want to know the Truth, and I want Life.
4. a. Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again.
“The ancient Greek word translated again (anothen) can be also translated “from above.” This is the sense in which John used this word in John 3:31 and in John 19:11 and John 19:23. Either way, the meaning is essentially the same. To be born from above is to be born again.” EnduringWord.com
The Jews assumed that their DNA that traced back to Abraham “assured them a place in God’s Kingdom.” EnduringWord.com
Jesus explained that a second physical birth is not necessary, but a spiritual birth is. We cannot save ourselves spiritually any more than we produced our own physical birth.
This type of language about new birth and new creation occurs throughout the New Testament. 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15 and others.
b. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” John 3:4 NLT
Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant or how that could literally even happen.
The figure of the new birth, if it had been meant only of Gentile proselytes to the Jewish religion, would have been intelligible enough to Nicodemus, being quite in keeping with the language of that day; but that Jews themselves should need a new birth was to him incomprehensible.
Perhaps he is asking, “How can you teach and old dog new tricks.” You can’t reform someone when they are old.
Nicodemus, a prominent and well-known teacher becomes the student.
Nicodemus, although he was a great and well-known teacher in Israel, didn’t understand or know these things from scripture. (AMP) A spiritual leader of the Jews should have known these things Jesus was saying. Instead, Nicodemus was trying to understand based on his five natural senses. He envisioned another king like David—delivering Israel from Roman rule.
Following his questions in John 3:9, Nicodemus became the student.
The following Old Testament scriptures revealed the spiritual world and prophesied the new birth.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (NLT emphasis added)
Ezekiel 37:9-10, 14 “Then he said to me, ‘Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’ So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.”...I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!'” (NLT emphasis added)
Isaiah 44:3-5 “…I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.” (NLT emphasis added)
5. Born of the flesh
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6
If it was even possible for a man to go back into his mother’s womb and experience another natural birth, it won’t accomplish anything. He will still have the same tendencies and passions.
Flesh: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature describes the word this way: “the physical body as functioning entity; in Paul’s thought esp., all parts of the body constitute a totality known as flesh, which is dominated by sin to such a degree that wherever flesh is, all forms of sin are likewise present, and no good thing can live.”
Other versions translate the word flesh in the following ways:
- The physical is merely physical (AMP)
- Human life (NLT)
- The part of a baby we can touch. (MSG)
Psalm 51:5 David wrote, “For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”
John 1:14 “So the Word became human and made his home among us.” NLT
John 6:51-56, 63 “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” ESV
Romans 8:5-9 “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” NLT
6. a. Those who have not experienced new birth
- They will be condemned for their sins.
- They are separated from God.
- They will experience God’s judgment.
John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
Ephesians 2:1, 5 And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). AMP
b. “The wind blows wherever it wants.”
The Greek and Hebrew words translated wind are the same as breath and spirit.
Nicodemus wanted a concrete explanation. But Jesus shows that just as we don’t see the source of the wind, we DO see the effects of the wind. We see, hear and feel them. When someone is born of the Spirit, even though we can’t see what took place, we do see the way salvation affects the person’s life.
Yes, I know I am born again. I know in my “knower” as I heard someone say.
My answers to BSF study questions on the Study of John 3:1-8 ~ John Lesson 4 Day 2