Akron Alliance Fellowship Church extends a special thanks to our guest speaker, Rev. Alfonso Tyler, for bringing today’s message. We also welcome his wife, Mary, and look forward to both returning to worship with us in the future.
The Gospel of John is our focus this week, where John, one of the more prominent members of Jesus Christ’s Twelve Apostles, and as a disciple of Christ, wrote the gospel at a time when there was much discussion about the legitimacy of Christ, His deity, and the emergence of false prophets and teachers. John, according to what we know, was the oldest living apostle at around age 90 when he wrote this book, and was believed to be the only one of the apostles to have died a natural death (all of the others were martyrs). He declared, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true (John 21:24).” He also wanted readers to know that “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30-31).”
John began the gospel with the declaration that Jesus Christ was there with God in the beginning, and that He was a part of creation. This was to communicate the true deity of Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created (John 1:1-3).” John is to be considered a credible and believable witness for Christ, because, by his account, he fellowshipped with Jesus Christ, and was referred to as ‘the disciple who Jesus loved (John 13:23, 19:26-27, 21:20).’
From John’s account, we will explore Jesus Christ’s interaction with Nicodemus (within John 3:1-10). Even though his account of the discussion between them begins in Chapter 3, note that the prelude to this discussion actually begins a few verses earlier, which reveals Christ’s omniscience. He knew the people that he was ministering to: “While He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many trusted in His name when they saw the signs He was doing. Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man (John 2:23-25).” Then we learn about the “man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1).” Nicodemus was not just an ordinary man; he was an educated man with authority. He had a seat on the Sanhedrin council. He was a Pharisee, who, as a people, believed that they were the descendants of Abraham, which they believe elevated them to a special status and that they were not slaves to sin—‘“We are descendants of Abraham,’ they answered Him, ‘and we have never been enslaved to anyone…(John 8:33a)” “We weren’t born of sexual immorality,’ they said. ‘We have one Father—God” (John 8:41b). It should also be noted that Nicodemus is not a Jewish name, but a Greek name, which means “victory of the people.” As one of the Pharisees, there was an implied sense of superiority and authority, yet Jesus “knew what was in man” and what was in their hearts.
Nicodemus knew the Scriptures, and was respected as a teacher, but Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus, and that he needed more. “Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3). The Jews wanted liberation from the Romans, and were looking for God to provide an answer, where Jesus answered those who were willing to listen that their true kingdom would be obtained when they focused on being born again. Nicodemus countered: “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:4-8). John the Baptist made this similar statement to prepare everyone, including the Pharisees, of the Lord’s coming. John the Baptist referred to the Pharisees as “snakes” because he knew their hearts and they were not interested in hearing about the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:1-12).
“Whatever is born of the flesh is of the flesh… (John 3:6a).” We, as believers in Jesus Christ, need to know, understand, and use the power of the gospel. The non-believer knows about Christ, but the believer has the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.
Nicodemus was perplexed with Jesus’ statement that he needed to be born again. “‘How can these things be?’ asked Nicodemus. ‘Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?’ Jesus replied (John 3:9-10).” Jesus informed Nicodemus that he needed to be born again, even with Nicodemus being a respected teacher of the law. We can conclude from this that, at that time, Nicodemus did not understand that Jesus was not just a teacher, as he was…He was the Messiah that Scripture had referred to. Sadly, there are many in a position of authority within churches as pastors, elders and teachers, and yet they may have never fully committed to Jesus Christ as Savior. The dilemma and bewilderment of Nicodemus shows that even the well-educated people of stature still need to make room in their hearts for Jesus Christ.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, God is now speaking to you with a small, still voice. He desires for you to recognize Him as the One who loves you unconditionally and who provides forgiveness of your sins. His desire is to have a relationship with you. It will forever change your life and secure your eternity in fellowship with Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).