·        Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin. The Pharisees were a select group of limited number: never more than 6,000 of them.

·        Each one taken a solemn vow before three witnesses that he would devote every moment of his entire life to obeying the Ten Commandments, as a way of pleasing God.

·        The commandments are given in rather general terms. The scribes, who were members of the Pharisees. These men spent their lives studying the Ten Commandments and applying them to situations of life so that the Pharisees could carry out these commands and thus obey God. They created the Mishna, which had whole sections devoted to defining the Ten Commandments. For example, there is 24 chapters devoted to obeying the Sabbath. They also have the Talmud, which is commentary on the Talmud. The Talmud has 156 pages on obeying the Sabbath.

·        Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. He was a ruler of the Pharisees and he came to Jesus at night. He said “We know you are a teacher from God”. He could be speaking on behalf of the Sanhedrin, or he could be speaking on behalf of all the Jews in Jerusalem. No member of the Sanhedrin had performed any miracles, and therefore, Jesus was respected, even if He was disliked and opposed.

·        Jesus did not address the subject of His being a highly respected teacher. Instead, he responds to Nicodemus with the core of Christianity: Jesus answered and said to him, «Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.»

·        When Jesus says "truly, truly" it means, “You better pay attention!”. It is used three times in this passage.

·        A new birth is absolutely essential to enter the kingdom.

·        The Word we see translated as “AGAIN” is the Greek word, anothen, which has three meanings: It means again to do it a second time; it also means to begin radically, completely, a new beginning; and it also means from above, and it is used in that sense in other places in Scripture. It signifies God must do this. The Christian understanding of this word includes all three of those meanings. It is speaking of something radical, a new beginning. It is a second birth, but it comes from above. It is God that does it, not man; and it results in a new creation, a new beginning. The concept of being born again is referred to in other places in the New Testament and by other authors: by Paul in 1 Cor 3:1; by Peter in 1 Pet 1:3; 1 Pet 1:23; 1 Pet 2:2;

·        Jesus makes clear that being born again is the only way to enter the kingdom of God. If you do not come this way you cannot enter. There is no way you can even see the kingdom of God without this.

·        Paul speaks of being transferred from "the kingdom of darkness, ruled by the god of this world, into the kingdom of the Son of his love," {cf, Col 1:13}. Being in the kingdom of God means that you belong to Him, that you dwell in His kingdom, that you are part of His rule. We leave our old life and enter a completely new one.

·        Here we have Nicodemus approaching Jesus at night. Jesus immediately tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. It appears as if Jesus could read into the heart of Nicodemus, as if he could tell that there was an unsatisfied yearning to be closer to God. Nicodemus was drawn to Jesus, but he was not yet willing to let it be known publicly. Hence, his night time visit.

·        John Wesley's favorite text, which he preached all through England, Wales and Scotland, was this, "You must be born again." Someone said to him once, "Why do you preach so often on 'you must be born again'?" Wesley's answer was, "Because -- you must be born again." Likewise, this is my personal favorite text in the Bible, and I consider it the most important passage a person can study. Without being born again, what is one left with?

·        Now Nicodemus asks with great wonder "How can this be? How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"

·        Here Jesus is laying the foundation for the most unpalatable doctrine of Scripture that teaches we all belong to a lost race. That is the problem. It is who we are that is wrong, not so much what we do or do not do. It’s the “family” we belong to that determines whether or not we will live for eternity in heaven, or live for eternity in hell.

Verse 3:5 Jesus answered, «Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

·        Here Jesus refers to the spiritual transformation that takes place in a person’s life and then is baptized. Jesus is advocating that one must be baptized in order to show his commitment to a life in the Spirit. Its not the water baptism that CREATES the spiritual transformation. Rather, it’s the spiritual transformation that results in one being baptized in order to show the transformation of leaving the old life and entering the new one.

·        John's baptism was the sensation of the nation at this time. Everyone was talking about it. The Pharisees had sent a delegation to John to ask Him why he was baptizing. The meaning of John's baptism was the central theological question of the day in which Jesus speaks. The symbol behind baptism is repentance.

·        What keeps people from being born again is their reluctance to recognize their personal need for Jesus Christ. Its their reluctance to admit and repent.

·        In verse 6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Jesus draws the distinction between being born physically and fleshly from being born Spiritually. The difference is significant and has eternal implications. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians, "You has he quickened [made alive] who were dead in trespasses and sins," {cf, Eph 2:1 KJV}.

·        Jesus is essentially telling Nicodemus that man cannot live to please God. Only God can create in man that which is pleasing to Him. As Christians, we need to be reminded of this. Many times we walk away from allowing ourselves to be led by the spirit, even if only momentarily. When we try to do things our way, we will fail.

·        Jesus indicates in a most remarkable way that the new birth will result in a totally new lifestyle; he will never be the same. Jesus uses the wind in verse 8 to illustrate this: "The wind blows where it wills." No man can control it, nor can find its source. It is God given!!

·        When God changes your life, expect it to change. It may take a while, but it will happen. You may have to grow first. Jesus said “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” We are like the wind when we are born again: God given, God made, God directed, and a mystery to man.

·        Yet, Nicodemus was still confused. “How can this be?” he asks. Folks who are not born again cannot understand it. They never will unless they are born again themselves. Yet they can notice the difference in us just as they can feel the wind blowing against them. They know its there even if they don’t understand it.


·        For the third time Jesus answers with a "truly, truly":

Jesus answered him. "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" {John 3:10-12 RSV}.

·        Jesus points out to Nicodemus how little he really knows about the scriptures (the Old Testament). Nicodemus was supposed to be one of the top teachers of Israel of that day, yet he did not understand this concept. Isaiah had spoken about a new life from God; that Jeremiah had predicted a new creation that would be given; that Ezekiel had said that God would take out the old heart of stone and give a new heart of flesh. All through the Old Testament there are statements about a new birth, a new beginning, a new creation, a new life that would come as a gift of God to those who would humbly, without pride, receive it as something they desperately needed. So Jesus says to Nicodemus, "How can this be? How can you, a teacher of Israel, not know about these things?"

·        Jesus says "We speak of what we know and bear witness of what we have seen, and you do not believe our testimony." It was the scriptures that spoke and Jesus Himself.

·        Jesus rebukes Nicodemus again: "If I told you of earthly things (about the wind, and birth, and water) and you do not understand what I mean, how can I reveal to you deep and marvelous truths, the heavenly things (the things which are under the invisible control of God)? How can I do that?" Here is a confirmation that Nicodemus' problem is not what he does, but what he is. Without being born again himself, he will never understand fully.

·        Jesus then ties the born again experience to Himself: “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.“ As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” The reference to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness is a reference to Christ’s crucifixion on the cross. Moses was told to put a brass serpent on a pole so that if the people would look at it, they would be healed from the bites of the serpents that had infested their camp. (Numbers 21:1-9):

WHEN the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, then he fought against Israel and took some of them captive. 2 So Israel made a vow to the LORD and said, “f You will indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.” 3 The LORD heard the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities. Thus the name of the place was called Hormah. 4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” 6 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.


·        John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Probably the most famous verse of all in scriptures. Even those who are not Christians recognize it. This is the essence of being born again. The use of the word “For” ties it to the discussion that precedes it: you must be born again! From John 1:12-13: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

·        Note that in verse 17, we are told that the reason Jesus was sent was not to provide condemnation. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” In fact, that is why, in every view we have of Jesus in the gospels where he is dealing with acknowledged, open, blatant sinners, we never hear a word of condemnation.

·        But verses 18-21 provides a turning point, a choice. We can freely accept God’s love or reject it. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” The condemnation spoken of in verse 18 is a view of eternal life. Note that the dependency is stated as “God's one and only Son.” There is no other way to escape the condemnation of God. Jesus is the one and only way. The wording in verse 18 indicates that as we are living our life without Jesus, we are already experiencing the condemnation of God.

·        Verses 19 and 20 tell us why some of us make this choice. " loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."  The reference to “men” here should really be taken as “mankind.” We all dislike being shown to be wrong. We all think we know what we are doing, and the choices we make are right. None of us likes to be told what to do. We all want to be the master of our own destiny, of our own life. But John’s reference to darkness and light are characteristic of the comparison and contrast style that John uses to describe so many Biblical concepts. Darkness is used in John’s writings to describe sin many times, while he usually accompanies it with a close reference to light, which he uses to refer to Jesus Christ or the Spirit. We cannot have both light and darkness simultaneously. In a dark room, there is no light. When the light is turned on, it overcomes the darkness. No matter what kind of light source one uses, it always overcomes the darkness: electrical, fire, sunlight, etc. Jesus always overcomes sin.

·        We see in verse 21 that those who respond to Jesus Christ, and are born again, lives easily in the light and welcomes it. “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” If we are willing to live a life obedient to Christ, we will find ourselves being more drawn to Jesus Christ. The more we come to Jesus the more we are drawn to Him.