John 2:19-21 says, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days? But Jesus spoke of the temple of His body." Jesus knew that the religious Jews would kill him, and that He would rise from the dead. They did not understand the symbolism of the temple made with stone compared to the temple, which is the human body. God designed the human body, and Jesus said that the body of a human was the same as a temple. Itís the same because the innermost sanctuary of the temple was the place that represented the presence of God. If you believe, you do not have to go to some place to find the temple of God because your body is the temple. If you believe, you do not have to go anywhere to find the presence of God: itís within you. There is no physical place where you can go to get closer to God. If you want to be closer to God, then it can only happen based upon what takes place inside of you, because the human body is the temple of God.
In I Cor. 3:16-17 Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said, "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." This concept of the body being the temple of God was first taught by Jesus in regards to His own body. When Jesus scourged the temple in Jerusalem, He was the judge concerning what was going on inside the temple. If you have the spirit of God inside of you, one of the works of God in your life will be to teach you how to treat your temple. You are not to defile it in any way. You are not to mar or disfigure it either, nor anyone elseís body for that matter. Thatís the will of God. Thatís a part of holiness. Let everyone learn how to treat the human body, if they are going to please God. It is revealing to note that those who do the most to harm or disrespect or disfigure their own or someone elseís body, are those who do not serve the living God, and do not have the Spirit of God within them. They do not have the realization that the body was meant to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
John 2:22-23 says, "When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which He did." In these two verses are given two reasons to believe. Some people believed because of the miracles that Jesus did, but others believed because of the things that He said. Of course, what he said was backed up by what He did. You will live a long time before you will find many humans who can be trusted in both what they say and do. But you can always trust the words of Christ. The apostles did and they were not disappointed.
Even though man can trust in Christ, Jesus could not trust man. The same crowd that claimed to believe in Him because of the miracles that He did; would one day cry out, "Crucify Him, crucify Him." John 2:24-25 says, "But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man." When the Bible says that Jesus did not commit himself to them, the word "commit" is the same word that is usually translated "believe" in the Bible. When you truly believe in the Lord, you commit yourself to Him because you trust Him; you take Him at His word; you believe what He says in regards to forgiving your sins, and protecting you, and always being with you. The Lord did not believe in men because He knew their belief was shallow. After all, the Lord came to die for our sins because He knew that humans could not keep their word and could not keep their promises. The Bible also says that Jesus "knew what was in man." Do you know what is in man? It says in Gen. 6:5 concerning the days of Noah, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Itís because of what is in man that we cannot save ourselves and we need a Savior. Jesus would later say that itís what comes out of a personís heart that defiles them. The Bible says, "There is none good, no not one." And the book of Romans says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
John 3:1-3 says, "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: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." We know that the Pharisees had already built up a resentment to and an opposition to Jesus. Thatís probably why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night: in order to avoid making public his inquiries into the true nature of who Jesus was. Sometimes the natural inhibitions of people in regards to the claims of Christ should be respected. No one should be made to feel that they must embarrass themselves or make a public exhibition of themselves in order to find out more about the message of Christ and how it applies to them personally. Jesus respected Nicodemusí needs for privacy in this matter. Some people would probably come to Christ sooner if they were not scared off by the outlandish public displays demanded in some of the invitations that are given. Itís a very personal decision for someone to come to grips with their need of a Savior. They can better do that in private than they can in public.
Nicodemus was an honorable and a dedicated member of a conservative religious organization. He was a Pharisee. He believed in God, and He also recognized that Jesus did the miracles that He did by the power of God. He was religious, but he lacked one thing that was essential. Jesus went right to the heart of the matter. Jesus made an explanation of what it takes for a person to enter the Kingdom of God. Evidently believing in God was not enough; being a member of a conservative religious organization was not enough, and believing that Jesus did the miracles that He did by the power of God was also not enough to get into the Kingdom of God. The most important question about Nicodemus, and the most important question about any human being is: What is their eternal destiny? The best thing that can happen to any human being is that they would end up in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, what Jesus is about to explain to Nicodemus here in John Chapter 3 is very important. Itís more than important: itís critical; itís essential.
Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." According to Jesus, there is a second birth. The first birth is physical. When a person is born into the world by their mother, they are given physical life. But according to Jesus that person will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless they also receive a second birth.
Nicodemus was puzzled by the concept of a second birth. He thought that a second birth meant a second physical birth. John 2:4 says, "Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his motherís womb, and be born?" John 2:5-6 says, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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 are two births. There is a physical birth and there is a spiritual birth. If you live on the earth, itís only because you have received the physical birth. If you end up living in the Kingdom of God, it will only be because you have received the spiritual birth.
Those who are born once will not see the Kingdom of God, but those who are born twice will live forever. To be born of water refers to the physical birth because a baby in encased in water in its motherís womb and because itís own physical body is 90 percent water. We all know that we have received the first birth, which is the physical birth. Jesus was trying to get Nicodemus to think about the necessity and the requirement of having a second birth, a spiritual birth. You have received the physical birth, but the question is have you received the spiritual birth?
In John 2:7-8 Jesus said, "Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes or where it goes: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." There are similarities between the physical birth and the spiritual birth, but there are also differences. There are things about the spiritual birth that we will probably never totally understand in this life. When Jesus was baptized the spirit was compared to a dove when it came and abode upon Him, probably because a dove symbolizes peace, and when the Spirit of God takes over your life you will know peace as you have never known it before. You will certainly have peace with God that you had never known before. But this time Jesus compares the spirit to the wind, probably because it is something that we cannot see, yet we still know without a doubt that it is there.
In spite of the explanation of the second birth that Jesus had given up to this point, Nicodemus was still puzzled. John 3:9 says, "Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?" The reason that Nicodemus could not understand what Jesus was saying is probably because the natural man does not understand the things of the spirit of God. Some things must be experienced, in order to be understood, and the second birth is one of those things. If you have never had the second birth; the spiritual birth, then you probably do not understand what Jesus is saying either.
John 3:10-12 says, "Jesus answered and said unto him, Are you a master of Israel, and know not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto you, We speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen; and you do not receive our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you about heavenly things?"
Jesus expressed some amazement that Nicodemus could not understand the concept of the new birth. Nicodemus was a religious man who believed in God, and Nicodemus was committed to a strict religious organization, but he could not understand the first principles of spiritual things. Spiritual truth is spiritually revealed: it cannot be understood by the intellect alone. When Jesus said, "If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you about heavenly things," Jesus was revealing one of the principle methods that He used to teach truth during His three years.
Jesus had an amazing ability to take common, ordinary things and events; and use them to teach deep, spiritual truths about God and about life. Jesus talked about the wind, and then said that the Spirit of God is like the wind. Jesus talked about a door, and said that He was the door to the kingdom of God. Jesus used fish, water, fruit on trees, bread, sheep, birds eating in a field, seeds planted in the ground, and a multitude of other things to teach spiritual truth. Itís almost as though one of the purposes for every physical thing is to be symbolic of something that is spiritual. After all the physical is temporary, but the spiritual is eternal. Itís the spiritual that is more real than the physical. The physical is only a vague and blurred image of the real, but Jesus had the spiritual insight as the Son of God, to look at the things that are created and to see behind them things that are eternal. There were situations throughout the life of Christ where He took the physical things that were around Him and used those physical objects to teach a spiritual truth. Some people make the mistake of taking the physical objects that Jesus used and making some kind of religious ceremony out of it. They probably make this mistake for the same reason that Nicodemus did not understand the new birth: they are not spiritually minded, and for them a physical ceremony replaces the spiritual reality. Since they do not understand the spiritual reality, the only thing left for them is the emptiness of the physical and the material. In that they do not concentrate on the spiritual, they fill up the void with the material.
But what Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus in John Chapter 3 is perhaps the most important of all spiritual concepts: the concept of the spiritual birth. Remember that Jesus compared it to the blowing of the wind. Letís see someone come up with a religious ceremony to replace that! How else would you explain the fact of a human being living life, and then one day realizing the great guilt of their sins, and then bowing down before God and His Son Jesus Christ and praying with all his heart and soul to be forgiven of all the mountain of sins that he had committed, and then finding peace and forgiveness through faith in the loving God, and spending the rest of his life seeking to know more about how to serve such a God? How can you explain such a phenomenon? Jesus explained it by comparing it to the wind. You canít see it, and you donít know exactly where itís coming from or where itís going, but you definitely know that itís there. It happens. Thatís the work of the Spirit.
Jesus said in John 3:14-15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." When Jesus mentioned Moses and the serpent, Jesus was referring to Exodus Chapter 21. The children of Israel sinned against God by not believing and by complaining. The judgment that came upon them was serpents that were sent to bite them. The serpent is often the symbol for evil and for the devil in the Bible. Because of the sin of the people, they became the victims of the power of evil. The sin of the world has always worked like that. It will beguile you and entice you, and then it will bite you like a serpent bites its prey.
But God provided a means of salvation. He told Moses to put a brass serpent on a stick and to simply hold it up where all could see. Everyone who looked at the serpent hanging on the pole lived and was saved from the judgment. In like manner, Jesus was hung on the cross for our sins. "He became sin for us, he who knew no sin." You now have the opportunity to look to Jesus and live, before the judgment destroys you. Looking implies seeking, depending upon, and having faith in. If you look to Christ in that way, He will also save you from the judgment to come.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved