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Monthly Archives: February 2014

When Jesus was finally sentenced to die and lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the story of the brass snake and recognized Jesus as the world’s Savior. 

After Jesus had risen from the dead and returned to heaven, when the disciples were in hiding to escape arrest, Nicodemus stepped up to help.  The one who had been so quiet and cautious now spent his entire fortune keeping the young church alive as it began to spread the story of Jesus to the world. 

Nicodemus was hated and persecuted by those who had honored him before. 

Nicodemus shared this story with John, who wrote it down in his history of the life and teachings of Jesus.  The truths Jesus taught that night are still as important as they were when a Jewish ruler heard them from the humble Teacher of Galilee.

In his talk with Nicodemus, Jesus explained the plan to save humans and His mission to the world.  Never again did He explain so clearly the step-by-step work that must be done in the hearts of all who would join His kingdom. 

Here, at the very beginning of His ministry, He showed the truth to a member of the Sanhedrin, a respected teacher of the people. 

But the other rulers did not welcome His new thoughts, Nicodemus kept what he had learned to himself. 

Still, Jesus’ words were not wasted.  Nicodemus watched Him and studied what He taught.  He worked to stop plans to destroy Jesus whenever they were discussed in the Sanhedrin.  

Many today need to learn the same lesson that Jesus taught to Nicodemus.  The desire to be forgiven comes from Jesus as much as the forgiveness itself.

How are we saved then?  The love of God ~ shinning from the Cross ~ draws us to Him.  If we don’t resist it, it leads us to the foot of the Cross to repent for the sins that put Jesus there.  Then the Holy Spirit changes us.  Our thoughts and desires begin to come under the control of Jesus.  Our hearts and minds are recreated to be like His.  Then God’s law is written in our hearts and minds.

Nicodemus had read the scriptures but only now began to understand them.  He saw that strict obedience of the law would not earn anyone a place in heaven.  By human standards, his life and behavior were practically perfect.  But standing next to Jesus, he felt unclean and unholy.

Jesus answered with an illustration that Nicodemus understood.  “Just as Moses lifted up  the snake in the desert, the Son of Man must also be lifted up.  So that everyone who believes can have eternal life in Him’ ” (John 13:14, 15).

Nicodemus understood.  He began to study Scripture in a different manner ~ not to have more knowledge for more discussions, but to fill his own soul with God’s love and His saving power.  He began to listen to the Holy Spirit.

The effects of the wind can be seen and felt.  In the same way, when the Holy Spirit has touched a life, sinful thoughts and actions are left behind.  Love, humility, and peace replace anger, jealousy, and fighting.  When a person surrenders to God, a new being is created in His image.  We experience here just the beginning of salvation ~ the results will be seen in eternity.

The truth was beginning to penetrate to Nicodemus’ mind.  The Holy Spirit was working on his heart.  But he did not yet understand.  “How can this happen?” he asked.

The human heart is naturally evil, and there is no human cure for the problem.  Anyone who tries to qualify for heaven by keeping the law is trying the impossible.  The work of the Holy Spirit on a person’s heart ~ one may not be able to tell the exact time or place when the heart was changed. 

But through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is working with each of us each moment of each day, whispering an invitation to come closer to His kingdom.  Impressions are made as we read the Scriptures for ourselves or hear the word explained by a preacher.  There may be an unforgettable moment when our heart is flooded with love for Him and we surrender to Jesus, but it is the result of the long, patient work of the Holy Spirit.

Surprised and irritated that Jesus would speak to him that way.  Nicodemus responded to what he thought was a ridiculous statement with a ridiculous question.  “But if a person is already old, how can he be born again?”

Jesus did not argue with him.  He raised His hand and said quietly, ” ‘I tell you the truth, unless one is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter God’s kingdom’ ” (John 3:5).

Nicodemus knew that Jesus was talking about being baptized in water and being touched by the Holy Spirit.  Now he was convinced that this was the One whom John the Baptist had spoken about and pointed to.

Nicodemus thought he had come to discuss the idea of truth, but Jesus cut straight to the heart.  He told Nicodemus, “You don’t need more knowledge about truth.  You don’t need answers to questions.  You need a new heart.  You won’t understand heavenly things until you have a new life from above.  Until you have this new heart,  there is no real benefit in discussing My power or My mission.”

Jesus did not respond to Nicodemus’ words.  He looked Nicodemus in the eye and saw into his heart.  He saw that Nicodemus was sincerely searching for truth.  So He said kindly and quietly, ” ‘ I tell you the truth, unless one is born again, he cannot see God’s kingdom’ ” (John 3:3).

Face to face with Jesus, Nicodemus felt nervous but he tried to hide it under a mask of confidence and dignity.  “Teacher, we know you must have been sent by God, because no one can do the miracles you do unless God is with him.”

Nicodemus thought that by complimenting Jesus’ teaching and His ability to perform miracles, he would make Jesus think that he was on His side.  Actually, he was showing that he did not believe.  He did not call Jesus the Messiah, just a teacher sent by God.

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