Read: John 3:1-15
I was known in high school for being funny and a little quirky. I loved to make people laugh. I loved being fun and exciting, always down for an adventure. I held on dearly to that reputation. I wanted people to see me like that. On days when I was weighed down by depression, I would combat this by making everyone else believe I was happier and funnier than ever. I didn’t want people to see that side of me. I enjoyed being the funny one and didn’t want to lose this by being authentic. My reputation was important to me.
Reputation was important to Nicodemus as a Pharisee, a religious leader of the Jews. John 3:1-2 says, “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘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.’” The other religious leaders despised Jesus, but there was something Nicodemus saw in Jesus that led him to find out more. Nevertheless, He went to Jesus at night so that he wouldn’t be seen. He cared about his reputation and what others might think.
Nicodemus went to Jesus in secret to learn the truth. Jesus told him that he must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. When Nicodemus was confused by this, Jesus explained in verses 5-6, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
To enter heaven and be saved from our sin we must have two births: a physical one and a spiritual one. We are born from our mothers first, then we must be born again of the Spirit. We must accept that Jesus is our Savior and follow Him. When we trust in Him, we are spiritually reborn.
Jesus gave Nicodemus the answer he was looking for: “You must be born again” (v. 7). If Nicodemus was willing to accept this truth, he wouldn’t be able to hide it from the other Pharisees. He would become a completely new creation. This is something that he wouldn’t be able to keep in the dark. He would lose his reputation.
As a Pharisee, Nicodemus had been taught that to enter heaven he had to follow the laws and complete the sacrifices. Because of this, Jesus’ message was groundbreaking. Understandably so, Nicodemus struggled to comprehend it. Jesus continued to explain in verses 14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” This looks back to Numbers 21:8-9. The Israelites were healed by looking up at the bronze statue of a snake. Similarly, Jesus would be lifted up on the cross. Salvation comes from looking towards Jesus and believing in Him. Through this, we can be reborn and fully made new.
Do you believe in Jesus? Have you been made into a new creation? Meditate on these questions and then discuss them with a trusted friend.