John 3:1-6




The Bible says in John chapter 3 verses 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 unto Him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”


John chapter 3 is one of the great chapters of the Bible where Jesus teaches us about the doctrine of salvation. The teachings that Jesus gave us about Himself concerning salvation should be studied and meditated upon with the greatest care because your eternity will be decided by whether or not you believe the words of the Son of God. The Bible says in Acts chapter 16 verse 31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”


Just as in our day and age, 2000 years ago there were many religious leaders and teachers who in the eye of other men were considered to be the authority on God. They claimed to be experts in the law of God and teachers of the truth. This is what the Pharisees were in Jesus time.  But the Bible says in Romans chapter 3 and verse 23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” No matter how highly esteemed one man may be in the eyes of other men all humans are merely sinners. Whether it is the president of the United States, or the pastor of a big church, or a common man, all men are equal in the sight of God. There is no respecter of persons with God. And therefore man should not esteem one man above another but equal. There is an obvious danger in thinking to highly of other people. One very good example of this is the recent president of the United States, Bill Clinton.  If the American public had learned to think for itself and to trust in God and not the news media or political officials, then they would not have been deceived by the lies of the media and the lies of Bill Clinton. If you allow you mind to be exposed to the words of men without looking to the word of God, you may very well find yourself in the same boat.


During the time of Jesus the Pharisees were esteemed highly in the eyes of other men as the great authority on the Word of God. It should be that those who are involved in religious organizations and teachers of the Bible are men who walk close with God and accurately teach His Word. Alas, this is often not the case. More often than not the religious leaders of this world are the self-righteous and prideful men who teach their own ideas, their own opinions, and their own agenda, instead of the wonderful truth of God.


Why did Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and scholar in the book of the Old Testament come to Jesus seeking answers to questions that he should have known if he truly was qualified to be a religious leader? The answer is very simple. Despite all the years of training and studying in the Jewish schools of theology Nicodemus had not gone to the right place.  He had spent years listening to the ideas and opinions of man but he had not learned to think for himself. Finally after all those years of being bound in the legalist teachings of the Pharisees without experiencing peace and satisfaction in his soul and without learning how to walk closely with God Nicodemus realized that the teachings of the religious organization in which he was involved would not relieve him of the guilt of his own sins or set him free from the curse and bondage of the law.  Jesus said seek and ye shall find. It’s not a college degree or any other title that makes a person an expert in the knowledge of God. But it is placing you faith in God and His Word day by day in each little situation of life that will eventually after many years bring you to a place of consistently close fellowship with God.


But despite the apparent mistake Nicodemus had made in his life there were 2 very wise things he did in verse 2. First He came to Jesus to find the truth. And second He recognized who Jesus is. Jesus is from God. “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles except God be with him.  If you want to have a friendship with God and if you desire to learn God’s Word then you must come to Jesus just as Nicodemus came to Jesus.


There are some things in life that can only be done by the power of God. Such is the ministry of Jesus’ 33 years on the earth. Nicodemus realized this. The same is true today. The work of God can only be done by God and by the power of God.  The salvation of man’s soul, the ability to convict someone of their sins, and the forgiveness of sins is a work that only the Holy Spirit can do.  And the ability to understand the Word of God and the infinite wisdom and knowledge that it contains is someone that can only be done through God Himself, not through man. James chapter 1 verse 5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” This does not mean that a college degree would not benefit you, nor does it mean that you should not listen to what others teach. You should listen to what others say. God very often uses others to teach you and me what He has taught them.  You should listen to others, but think for yourself and pray, and study the Word of God and ask God to help you to understand the truth on a particular issue.


When Nicodemus came to Jesus in John chapter 3 and verse 2, he had not even asked Jesus a question when Jesus spoke to him. This is because God knows the heart of man and he knows the spiritual needs that we have. That is why when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus He spoke to him of salvation. For Nicodemus like all men was a sinner. He was a soul that had no life; nor light, but sat in darkness needing the light of Christ to give him life. This is what Jesus is teaching about in verse 3.


The Bible says in John chapter 3 verses 3 and 4, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus saith unto Him, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Here in verse 3 Jesus is teaching us one of the basic and important truths about salvation. If there is life it has come from God. And although we live in a physical realm and possess a physical body, there is a spiritual realm and man has a spirit. In the Beginning of human history man had a state of innocence, he was without sin, and in fellowship with God. But when Adam sinned and disobeyed God, human nature became corrupt and depraved and all men since have been born into this world sinners in spiritual darkness, with no spiritual life within them. In this life we may not fully understand why the choices of Adam so greatly affected our lives the way that it did, but one thing is for sure, all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. The Bible says in Romans chapter 5 verse 12, “wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”


If sin entered into the world by the spiritual death of one man then it makes sense that the redemption of the human race should be achieved by the death of one man. The Bible says in Romans chapter 5 verse 17, ”For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”


Jesus said that you must be born again. How can a person who has already been born be born again? Physically this seems impossible.  Why did Nicodemus not recognize that Jesus was speaking of a spiritual birth? The Bible says in I Corinthians chapter 2 and verse 14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The Bible says man’s ways are not of the Lord. The way God thinks and the way God operates is very different from the way man thinks. More often than not human beings when they listen to the teachings of Jesus do not approach His words with faith in God. Without faith you will not understand the Word of God. And it is only God that is able to open the eyes of your understanding so that you can see the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. In other words those who do not believe or understand the teachings of Jesus about how to be saved, do not understand because the Holy Spirit has not revealed it to them. Such is the case of Nicodemus. In John chapter 4 when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, she understood and believed the sayings of Christ. From man’s view point there would be a great contrast between an uneducated Samaritan woman, and a Jew who was a supposed expert in the Law of God. Apparently in the heart of the woman, she desired to do the right thing and therefore her heart was open to Jesus. If you seek answers to the spiritual cancer within your soul and desire to understand what the Bible means then you must come to Jesus.


The Bible says in verse 5 and 6, “Jesus answered, verily, verily I say unto thee, 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.” There is a physical birth and there is a spiritual birth. The Bible says the end of sin is death. We are all sinners. Therefore it makes sense that we are all dead spiritual until we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the Birth Jesus is talking about, the new life that enters the soul of a sinner when his sins are washed white as snow by the blood of the lamb of God. It is the birth of faith.


If you have been born into this world but you have not been born into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then in reality you have not yet begun to exist or to live. True life, spiritual life, begins when you repent of your sins and accept Jesus as your Savior.  Once the seed of faith is planted by the Word of God into the heart and mind of a man, it is the Holy Spirit that waters and gives the seed life, turning the seed into a plant which will grow and grow and make the life of a man richer and fuller in joy and peace, love, faith, wisdom, and knowledge. This is the glorious work of the Gospel.


There is a big contrast being made here in verses 5 and 6. When the Bible says that which is born of water the Bible is referring to the physical birth of a man. When the Bible says that which is born of the Spirit the Bible is speaking of the spiritual birth of a man.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. There is an eternal difference between the physical and the spiritual. Jesus emphasizes this to help us to realize that it is not physical acts of any kind that save a soul but it is only the work of the Spirit of God convicting the mind of sin until that person comes to Jesus for forgiveness.


Human beings are feeble and vain. We know much less about life than we think we do. Man does not have control over his own existence. You exist in the world today not because you chose to come into being but because God chose to give you life. And you will die one day whether you want to or not. Salvation is a choice God offers to the free will of man.  But it is ridiculous to believe I somehow of myself can save myself from my sins. If I cannot determine the physical aspects of my existence, by birth and death then I certainly cannot determine the spiritual aspects through my own will, only through the will of God. The sooner you see your complete weakness and helplessness the sooner you will be ready to see Jesus and His eternal power, strength, and glory.


The Bible says in II Corinthians chapter 5 verse 17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”



Copyright; 2001 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved