The story of Nicodemus in the Bible is the story of a man who led a “good” life. He was wealthy, but he did not horde his wealth; he tithed his income. He was a noted religious teacher and a member of the Sanhedrim, the ruling council of the Jewish nation. He probably fasted several times a week and spent time each day in the Temple in prayer.
If Nicodemus was a Christian and living today, most of us would probably say he is a fantastic role- model.
In the story, as Nicodemus encountered Jesus, he addressed Him as “teacher come from God” which may mean he respected Jesus and His connection to God. However, Jesus knew Nicodemus needed something more than a teacher. Instead of a teacher, Nicodemus needed a savior.
Jesus went right to the heart of the matter; He told him “You must be born again.”
Can you imagine how this man felt? He thought he was good enough. Nicodemus’s problem is a problem that many of us have; many of us may think we are “good enough” but we aren’t.
Pastor Billy Graham writes “Jesus knew what lies in the hearts of all men—the fatal disease that causes lying, cheating, hate, prejudice, greed and lust.” Jesus says in Matthew “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things that defile the man” [Matthew 15: 19-20].
Try as hard as we can, it is impossible for us to avoid revolting against the will of God, even the best of us.
You see, we have that pesky sin nature that goes back to the Garden, to our ancestors Adam and Eve.
Many think that sin is a willful turning away from the straight path that God would have us take, but it can also be not doing what we know God wants us to do or even stopping short of what we know God would want us to do. First John 3:4 describes sin as “transgression of the law.”
Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again and guess what, we need to be “born again” also.
Maybe like Nicodemus, you don’t consider yourself a bad person. You lead a decent life. But maybe what is nagging you about life is the “high bar” set by Jesus and His Father God. You know you have fallen short. To be born again, you must realize you are a sinner.
The Jew Nicodemus was face to face with Jesus. You don’t have that experience but you know that Jesus Christ has come to save you. You know you deserve to die for the sins you have committed but Jesus loves you so much that he has died for your sins. He has taken your place.
You can repent of your sins; you can truly feel sorry for the fact that you have sinned. You can turn your back on your sins and accept God’s grace, letting God direct you in a better direction.
As you do that, you can learn to live by faith and trust Christ.
There it is: the steps to being “born again.” Realize that sin is a part of your life, accept the fact that Jesus came to die for your sins, honestly repent for the sins you have committed and begin to trust that God has a better life for you ahead.
This is called transformation.
It is not from science or technology. Economics has nothing to do with this. This is not a self-improvement book, course or lecture that you need to attend.
This is a transformation that comes from God, through the working of the Holy Spirit which comes to us when we are saved.
Graham states “No one can come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit draws him to the cross, where Jesus by His blood cleanses away the sin of each person who places his faith in Him.”
Why can’t we see this pathway to a better life, this offer of joy and peace? To keep it simple, we are blinded by a devil who tells us we are ok where we are, that what we are doing is not bad and life is fine without being as fully committed to God as we can be.
Jesus told Nicodemus of a wilderness journey of the ancient Israelites. The people were deep in sin and God sent serpents to bite them. Many were dying so God told Moses to fashion a brass serpent and lift it high on a pole. All who looked at that serpent would be saved.
Was it the brass in the serpent that saved them? Did Moses dispense medicine to rub on their snake bites? Making an offering to the pole serpent did not do the trick. Even praying to the serpent did not save them.
The point of the story is the people needed a simple child-like faith. They needed to do what God told them. When they looked at the serpent, they were looking at God Himself. Likewise Jesus said “I am going to be lifted up—look unto Me and be saved.” Of course Jesus’ “lifting up” was on a cross.
Let the Holy Spirit draw you to the cross. Move forward with the Holy Spirit showing you how to live your life with grace and faith.
And you will be transformed; indeed, you will be “born again.”