JESUS' CONVERSATION WITH NICODEMUS

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    [John:3:1-21]; [John:7:45-53]; [John:19:39-40].

    Lesson No.: 
    29
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (I John 3:9).

    Cross References: 

    I Nicodemus' Visit to Jesus by Night
    1. He was a Pharisee and a ruler, [John:3:1].
    2. He sought an audience with the Son of God, [John:3:2]; [Luke:19:3]; [Jeremiah:29:13].
    3. His confession revealed a frank, open character, [John:3:2]; [John:14:11].
    4. Jesus imparts wisdom to an honest heart, [John:3:3]; [Luke:2:40]; [Proverbs:2:6]; [Ezekiel:36:26].
    5. Nicodemus fails to comprehend the Truth, [John:3:4]; [Proverbs:16:2]; [Romans:10:3].

    II Jesus' Cogent Explanation of the New Birth
    1. Salvation is a necessary experience, [John:3:5-7]; [Titus:3:5]; [Matthew:5:20]; [Isaiah:64:6]; [Romans:3:20]; [Galatians:2:16]; [1 Peter:1:23]; [1 John:5:1]; [2 Corinthians:5:17].
    2. The action of the Spirit is similar to the wind, [John:3:8]; [Acts:2:2]; [John:6:44].
    3. Nicodemus is amazed at the power of Christ's words, [JHN:3.9-11]; [1 Corinthians:2:14]; [Matthew:7:28-29]; [Mark:1:27]; [1 Peter:3:22].
    4. Jesus searchingly questions Nicodemus, [John:3:12-13], [Proverbs:30:4]; [Job:38:4].

    III The Crucifixion Necessary to Salvation of Men
    1. Jesus is our redemption, [John:3:14]; [Numbers:21:5-9]; [Isaiah:53:1-12]; [Matthew:26:28]; [1 John:1:7]; [1 John:2:2]; [Hebrews:7:25]; Hebrews:9:22]; [1 Timothy:1:15]; [1 Peter:1:18-19].
    2. It is necessary to believe in Christ to be born again, [John:3:15]; [John:14:6]; [John:1:12]; [John:5:24]; [Romans:1:16]; [1 Peter:2:6]; [Hebrews:11:6].
    3. God gave His only begotten Son, [John:3:16]; [John:4:10]; [John:17:3]; [Romans:5:8-10]; [Titus:3:4-5]; [Romans:6:23]; [Romans:8:32]; [2 Corinthians:9:15]; [Ephesians:2:8].
    4. The unbeliever is condemned, [John:3:17-18]; [John:3:36]; [Revelation:21:8; [Galatians:6:7]; [Revelation:20:10]; [Hebrews:3:12]; [Hebrews:4:11].
    5. Christ's teaching proves to be clear and understandable to a perplexed heart, [John:3:19-21].
    6. Evidence that Nicodemus later was born again, [John:7:45-53]; [John:19:39-40].

    Notes: 

    Nicodemus was an educated man who held a position in the Sanhedrin and a place of honour and respect in the eyes of his countrymen. Although possibly a cautious inquirer, he was an earnest seeker after spiritual truth, and was fair-minded. He approached Christ with reverence, "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God." This virtue in the heart of an inquirer is necessary to secure an audience with Jesus. Nicodemus was honest in his questioning and not as some who merely propound questions in an effort to hinder the Truth ([Matthew:22:15-18]). One who opens his heart to Christ will always find his problems easily solved by the Master ([Luke:11:31]).

    Possibly Nicodemus' reason for coming to the Lord at night was that a man of his position before his fellow men could not afford the reproach of Christianity ([John:9:22]). True Christianity always has had its reproach, and the followers of Jesus are sometimes scorned and called peculiar. This does not affect the true follower if he has purposed in his heart to be that "peculiar treasure" unto the Lord ([Exodus:19:5]).

    But there is more than one reason why Nicodemus came by night. Jesus was leading a very busy life, we must remember, and it might have been that Nicodemus had no other time when he could see Jesus. He also might not have been concerned about the reproach of his fellow men but feared the disapproval of the Pharisees at this time. ([John:12:42]). The average member of that group looked upon Jesus and all His disciples with contempt.

    There was a time when it meant persecution, trouble, and sneers to be a Christian. But the term Christianity has become almost synonymous with civilization, so it is no longer a disgrace, in the popular mind, to be known as a Christian, nominally at least. The real follower of Christ will find plenty of trouble, however. Even with all our rights and privileges in Africa, there are plenty who will do all in their power to hinder the work of God or put something in the way of one of God's little ones. But, nominally speaking, it is almost a disgrace not to be a Christian today, so closely connected the name has become with the better ways of living.

    Jesus mentioned the Kingdom of Heaven many times during His ministry, from the beginning to the end. The Jews were looking for the Messiah to come and set up an earthly kingdom and free them from the yoke of Roman bondage; and they failed to see, from the writings of the prophets, that the Kingdom was not to be a temporal, but a spiritual one. Jesus approached the problem at the very beginning of His conversation with this ruler: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." There is the entrance into the Kingdom: we must be born again!

    This term "born again" is familiar to us now -- and yet many so-called Christians do not comprehend what it means, and have never experienced it. It was not a familiar term to them at that time. It is not recorded at any earlier place in the Scriptures.

    The principle of likening the transformation of the heart at justification to the natural birth was not done before Christ did it at this time. A change of heart is mentioned and brought out in the Old Testament, but this comparison is not made. Being truly born again will give us that change of heart and will embrace more than joining a religious organisation and striving to live up to Christian principles. It will enable us to live a life pleasing unto God -- a life without sin. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" ([1 John:3:9]). When one is born again, he enters a new life ([2 Corinthians:5:17]), a life in which the Spirit of God has control instead of the law of sin and death. No better term could be used to describe the radical change than this that Jesus used: "Ye must be born again."

    Salvation is a revelation from God, and every soul who has experienced this "new birth" will say it is real. If a man be in Christ, he is a "new creature." God regenerates the heart. This is the "born again" experience in that "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" ([2 Corinthians:5:17]).

    Nicodemus had come into great light in that the Lord had revealed the Truth to his heart. Consequently it was necessary to walk in that light or never know the experience of a sinless life. "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" ([1 John:1:6-7]). For Nicodemus the time of decision had arrived. Was he going to remain in the darkness? Or was he going to come into the light and let it have its effect on him?

    The Spirit of God is faithful to every heart. When we trust our guidance in the hand of the Holy Spirit and follow His divine bidding implicitly, the pitfalls and snares of the soul's enemy will always be averted ([John:16:13]). Those who do not follow the Spirit are the ones who reap the wages of sin.

    It is always the enemy's business to confound or perplex his intended victim; but we have a Captain Who never lost a battle anywhere and we know that our Commander is more than an equal for any occasion. Whenever one seeks the Son of God with honesty, sincerity, and faith, an immediate audience will be obtained. The multitudes of redeemed souls around the Throne of God will testify to this fact and praise God for it through all eternity.

    Jesus did not hesitate to go to the very depths to make the most amazing disclosures of Himself to the people. Each miracle performed was for a definite and explicit reason. He was, and is, interested in the souls of men, and will not spare Himself that the redeeming power in the Blood of the Lamb may be made known to all mankind.

    Questions: 

    1. Why do you suppose Nicodemus chose to visit Jesus at night?
    2. Was Nicodemus' greeting one of respect or derision?
    3. What was Jesus' message to this Pharisee?
    4. Is it applicable today?
    5. What does "born again" mean?
    6. Through whom is this experience received, and what is necessary for all to do who seek it?
    7. Did Nicodemus make a wise choice?
    8. Do we also have the same privilege of choosing whom we shall serve?
    9. What is the wise choice?
    10. What is the foolish choice?