Read John 1 -- 3
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God (John 3:1-2). This prominent teacher and interpreter of the Scriptures probably wanted an uninterrupted conversation with Jesus, so he chose to see Him at night.
Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the council which controlled the religious life of Israel, yet he openly confessed to Jesus: Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God (3:2). But, every sinner needs more than a teacher; he needs Christ, the Redeemer, who alone can impart His Holy Spirit within him.
Our first concern must be, not how we should live, but how we can be made alive spiritually since we are born dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Jesus said to Nicodemus: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. . . . You must be born again (John 3:5-7). To illustrate how essential it is to be "born again," Jesus reminded him of the Israelites when, near the end of their 40 years of wilderness wandering, they once again complained about their circumstances. So, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them that brought death to thousands of people. When the people cried out to God, He commanded Moses to make a serpent of brass and hang it on a pole. The people could only be healed by turning their eyes and looking at the brazen serpent. Jesus then said: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have Eternal Life (3:14-15). He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the Only Begotten Son of God (3:18). The serpent was made of brass because it is the biblical symbol of judgment. The brazen altar also illustrates this truth, since animals were sacrificed on it for the people's sins.
The new birth is experienced by anyone who realizes that his only hope of being right with God is not within himself. Every born again person has two natures within him -- one is by physical birth (the natural man) (I Corinthians 2:14), the other is spiritual (the new creation) (II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). These two natures are contrary the one to the other (5:17). Consequently, there is an unceasing warfare going on within the heart of a Christian.
The one who is born again loves the things he once ignored, and he now hates the things he once desired. When we were born the first time, we received the sinful nature of our parents, which was inherited from Adam: Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18). Being born again means we are born into God's family and receive the Divine Nature of our Creator: Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the Divine Nature (II Peter 1:4).
Word Studies: 1:5 and the darkness comprehended it not means the unbelieving world loves sin and consequently cannot see their need for Christ; 1:15 was before me means existed before me; 1:39 tenth hour means 4 p.m., two hours before evening; 3:25 purifying means religious cleansing ritual.
For John 1:23: See Isa. 40:3. John 2:17: See Psa. 69:9.
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Memory Verse for the Week: Philippians 2:16