Books of the Book: John

The Nicodemus Story

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Deyvy Rodriguez & Jon Paulien


Series Code: JBOTB

Program Code: JBOTB00008B

00:01 And welcome back, we are studying the Gospel of John
00:03 and we are in chapter 3, we're studying Nicodemus.
00:08 And Dr. Jon Paulien is with us.
00:10 I have a question for you, Dr. Paulien.
00:13 We're talking about how Jesus answers
00:17 some of His, some of His questions.
00:19 And He goes on to explain
00:21 that unless one is born of water and the Spirit
00:26 and Jesus says that,
00:30 which that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
00:33 But what is the water, being born of water mean?
00:38 Well, you have Nicodemus in the story.
00:40 Jesus is speaking to him,
00:42 so it's got to make some sense to Nicodemus.
00:45 And you remember in the previous segment
00:47 Nicodemus is the leader of these Pharisees in a real way.
00:50 He's the dean of the seminary.
00:52 The Pharisees sent a delegation to meet John, the Baptist.
00:57 You know, baptism is not normal for Jews
00:59 at that time as we think of baptism today.
01:02 They did have these ceremonial washings.
01:04 And so John is over there baptizing
01:07 and Nicodemus has that in his mind.
01:10 So I think it's very, very likely
01:12 that when Jesus talks about water and the Spirit here,
01:14 He is referring to baptism.
01:16 And you need to be baptized in the Spirit.
01:20 You see here's the thing.
01:22 You can be baptized,
01:24 you can do all the washings that Nicodemus used to do.
01:27 Maybe he was even baptized by John, you see.
01:30 And if that's little detail is not here,
01:32 it would be very interesting historically.
01:34 So Jesus then would be saying, you can be baptized,
01:39 you can have your name on the books and stuff,
01:41 but if you haven't given your life
01:43 to be transformed by the Spirit,
01:45 then you haven't received all of that is there for you.
01:48 I would like to point to a text in Ezekiel 36,
01:53 where water and Spirit are tied together
01:55 and may well have been in John's mind
01:58 or in Jesus' mind at this point.
02:00 Ezekiel 36:25-27.
02:06 It says, "I will sprinkle clean water on you,
02:09 and you will be clean,
02:11 I will cleanse you from all your impurities
02:13 and from all your idols.
02:15 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you,
02:19 I will remove from you the heart of stone
02:21 and give you a heart of flesh.
02:22 And I will put my Spirit in you
02:24 and move you to follow my decrees
02:26 and be careful to keep my laws."
02:28 So here water and Spirit are united together as a cleansing
02:32 and it's an empowering to a new kind of life.
02:35 And Jesus was saying, you know, you can be dean of the seminary,
02:38 you can have your name on the books,
02:40 you can be baptized all of that.
02:42 But until you give yourself totally to Christ
02:44 and allow Him to transform you through the Spirit.
02:48 It's only an outward shell.
02:50 In the Gospel of John, there's this constant contrast
02:52 between the outward shell of religion
02:55 and the real genuine article.
02:57 And this born again concept, being born from heaven,
03:01 being born of the Spirit.
03:03 So, it's very important part of the Gospel of John.
03:07 And Jesus is looking for genuine followers.
03:10 Not just in number,
03:13 but people with the sincerity to follow Him,
03:17 to take up their cross and keep His commandments.
03:21 That was a sharp, really sharp pick up right now,
03:24 because we haven't yet talked about verses 18 to 21
03:27 but there that's exactly where he goes with this.
03:30 When John himself interprets the story of Nicodemus,
03:34 he goes there it's all about genuineness.
03:37 And we will see that in just a moment.
03:39 But before we get there, let's stop at verse 16
03:41 because everybody loves John 3:16,
03:45 even people at football games sometimes.
03:47 And, you know, John 3:16 is the big thing,
03:50 you know, you see the signs sometimes.
03:53 So why don't you read it for us
03:55 in the New King James, I think you have that.
03:58 "For God so loved the world
03:59 that He gave His only begotten Son,
04:01 that whoever believes in Him
04:03 should not perish but have everlasting life."
04:06 That only begotten peace, that bothered some people.
04:09 You know, what does He mean Jesus was His only begotten Son?
04:14 Did God have a son?
04:17 You know, in a literal sense
04:19 and doesn't that contradict what John was saying in 1:1
04:23 where Jesus is not part of creation,
04:25 He has no beginning and all the rest of that.
04:28 Well, there's a long history to this passage.
04:31 And you may be aware that
04:33 well, the New Testament was written in Greek.
04:35 It got translated into Aramaic, into Latin,
04:39 into Ethiopic languages, etcetera.
04:42 So there were lot of different translations
04:44 and the translation that most powerfully affected
04:47 the main line Christian church was the Latin translation.
04:51 Particularly one called the Vulgate
04:54 which in the middle ages was a primary way
04:56 that people got into the Bible.
04:58 And it's interesting that in translating this text,
05:01 the Latin gives you two options
05:03 for this mono-ganese in the Greek is this one of kind.
05:09 Mono-ganese really means one of a kind,
05:13 if you take it literally.
05:15 In Latin you could translate that unicus which means unique.
05:20 Well, you could translate unigenitus
05:23 which means only born or one of a kind once again.
05:28 So in Latin there's an ambiguity
05:31 between one of a kind and only born.
05:34 So the Latin translators chose this only born.
05:39 But mono-ganese,
05:41 the Greek word here is used in the story of Isaac.
05:45 Isaac was Abraham's mono-ganese.
05:49 Wait a minute. Was that his only son?
05:55 Who else does he have?
05:57 He had-- Ishmael.
05:58 Ishmael. Right.
05:59 First, Isaac wasn't even the first born son.
06:02 He was not the only son of Abraham.
06:04 In fact, did you know that after Sarah died,
06:07 Abraham remarried had six more sons.
06:10 Lot of people don't know that little detail
06:12 'cause it's only mentioned in passing.
06:13 So he was not Abraham's only son,
06:15 mono-ganese doesn't fit there, but he was one of a kind.
06:19 He was the only son of Sarah
06:22 and he was the only son of a promise
06:25 that God gave special promises to fall on Isaac and only Isaac.
06:31 So Abraham and Isaac,
06:34 their relationship was one of a kind, it was unique.
06:37 And so Jesus has a relationship with God like no one else.
06:41 He has that unique relationship with God.
06:44 And the beauty of this passage is as it says,
06:48 God so loved the world that He gave His unique One,
06:55 His uniqueness that Jesus is unique.
06:58 He is God Himself.
07:00 He Himself contains within Himself a fullness of God.
07:06 In Jewish thinking of the time, God is the creator
07:12 and God is the only one who can be worshipped.
07:15 And He is the only true ruler of the universe.
07:18 And Jesus is portrayed in all three ways.
07:22 In the New Testament, He is the creator,
07:26 He is the ruler of the universe and He can be worshipped.
07:30 Angels can't be worshipped but Jesus can.
07:32 That means Jesus carried in Himself
07:34 the fullness of what God is like.
07:37 And so in His coming,
07:39 He helps us to understand what in fact God is like.
07:44 One more thing I want to mention,
07:45 then we want to get to verses 18 to 22.
07:48 "Since God so loved the world that He gave His only Son
07:51 that whosoever believes might have everlasting life."
07:57 I think that whosoever is crucial
08:00 to what John is doing here
08:02 because Nicodemus is an example of whosoever.
08:05 Jesus came for the Jews and for the Pharisees.
08:08 The Samaritan woman is another example of the whosoever.
08:12 She is the opposite end from Nicodemus.
08:15 Yeah, she is not a religious teacher.
08:17 She is a woman who's been living a very loose life.
08:20 In every way she is the opposite of Nicodemus.
08:23 Yet the whosoever includes her.
08:25 And then at the end of the chapter 4,
08:27 you have a Gentile prince who comes to Jesus.
08:31 So Jewish leader, woman at the outcast of society,
08:36 Gentile prince, whosoever includes them all.
08:39 I don't care what background you have,
08:41 where you've come from, the gospel includes you.
08:45 But let's finish off with verses 18 to 21
08:47 'cause this is often overlooked
08:49 and we want to capture that if we can.
08:52 "'He who believes in Him is not condemned,
08:54 but he who does not believe is condemned already,
08:58 because he has not believed
08:59 in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
09:02 And this is the condemnation,
09:04 that the light has come into the world,
09:06 that men loved darkness rather than light,
09:09 because their deeds were evil.
09:11 For everyone practicing evil hates the light
09:13 and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed.
09:18 But he who does the truth comes to the light,
09:21 that his deeds may be clearly seen,
09:24 that they have been done in God.' "
09:27 So what does light do?
09:29 Light exposes the reality of things
09:32 that were not known in the dark, you see.
09:35 One thing you don't know is the character of a person.
09:38 Jesus is the light.
09:40 When He comes Nicodemus or Nicodemus comes to Him,
09:42 Jesus exposes the spiritual deficit in Nicodemus' life.
09:48 So this is an illustration of everyone that Jesus met,
09:52 Jesus very presence calls them to judgment.
09:55 Jesus' very existence there is a decisive moment.
10:00 If they reject Jesus, they're turning away from the light,
10:05 they are going back in the darkness.
10:07 If they accept Jesus, they come to the light
10:09 and they are accepted by Him.
10:13 Then it raises the question.
10:14 Why wouldn't people come to Jesus?
10:18 Why would you reject the gospel?
10:20 It's free.
10:22 Just ask and you will receive.
10:24 Why would people reject that?
10:27 Tells us in verse 20.
10:30 John 3:20.
10:31 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light
10:34 and does not come to the light,
10:37 lest his deeds should be exposed."
10:39 So what's the problem?
10:40 Why don't people come to Jesus?
10:42 They don't want their deeds to be exposed.
10:44 Ah. You see, every one of us has little dirty secrets.
10:50 Every one of us has dark places
10:52 we don't want the light to shine.
10:54 We feared ever since Adam and Eve hid in the garden from God.
10:58 We have been filled with shame and with guilt
11:01 and we try to hide from God,
11:02 that's natural for human beings to do.
11:05 And so when Jesus comes many people shied away from Him
11:09 because they recognized
11:11 that they would have to give up their secrets.
11:13 That's what confession is all about.
11:16 It's simply telling the truth about yourself.
11:19 It's allowing the dirty secrets to come out.
11:22 If we confess our sins,
11:23 He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
11:26 Why would not confessing be a problem?
11:29 Because we are saying
11:31 I'm keeping, this is mine, you can't have it, okay.
11:34 When Jesus shines to light,
11:36 He exposes the things that we are hiding.
11:38 Now we have a problem.
11:40 We can be like a bug.
11:41 If you ever taken a walk in the night
11:43 and you see a rock on the ground with your flashlight,
11:45 you pick up the rock.
11:47 And you shine the flashlight, what's going on,
11:49 there's often lot of little bugs,
11:50 you know, just going crazy.
11:52 They don't like the light,
11:53 they're like, hey, put that rock back, man.
11:54 I like being under the rock, it was nice and safe in there.
11:57 The light is scaring me, you see.
11:59 People are like bugs under a rock.
12:01 When the light shines, we tend to freak out.
12:05 And that's the reason people turn away from the gospel,
12:08 because they don't want their deeds to be exposed.
12:11 And that's a challenge to me,
12:13 because I need to ask myself everyday, am I living genuinely?
12:17 Is my faith at home
12:19 the same faith that I live when I'm on TV?
12:22 When I'm out in public?
12:23 When I'm preaching to people?
12:25 Or is there an act that I can put on in this place,
12:27 but back at home the real me shows up, you see.
12:30 Who we are when no one's looking,
12:32 who we are at home,
12:34 that's the real test of whether we are following Jesus or not.
12:37 And Jesus invites people to come to Him,
12:40 but in the process He shines the light on us.
12:43 And He calls for authenticity for the faith to be real.
12:47 So what the verse is saying is that men will be judged for--
12:51 not for the darkness He loved
12:52 but rather for the light that they receive
12:54 when they are not in darkness which they rejected.
12:58 And well, Dr. Paulien I pray that light that God--
13:01 that God gives me that I cannot reject
13:04 and that I can continue to grow in that light.
13:07 And I pray that to you too, my friends till next time.


Revised 2014-12-17