We have spent only a few weeks in our sermon series on Nicodemus and Jesus in John 3. We could spend months exploring all of the rich treasures and profound theological realities found therein. But we must move on . . . move out onto the open road with Jesus in John 4 as we learn how to make and become disciples of the Kingdom!
In summary, here are some of the main points we have explored in this series (with verses in parentheses):
1. Like Nicodemus, we all must come and have our own personal encounter with Jesus (2).
2. Like Nicodemus, one can recognize Jesus as a great teacher come from God and still not be born again (2).
3. Like Nicodemus, one can be a religious leader and Bible expert and still not know Christ (1).
4. Some of us come to church/Jesus for the “big show,” wanting to be entertained (2).
5. Some of us are ashamed to go public with our faith, and so we come at night in secret (2).
6. Some of us are so desperate that we’d seek Jesus out at any hour — even late at night (2).
7. Jesus will receive us even when we come to him in “spiritual darkness” with doubts, confusion, prejudice, and blind spots (7,10,12).
8. Religion is often the greatest barrier preventing us from embracing Jesus (1). We must “beware of the yeast of the scribes and Pharisees.”
9. Jesus replaced/fulfilled religion with himself. Jesus is the new way to connect with God (e.g., new temple, incarnate Word).
10. Sin has placed a veil of darkness over everyone’s eyes that only God can remove (3).
11. One can’t grasp or desire spiritual things without a spiritual awakening, or new birth (3).
12. The Holy Spirit moves like the wind; we can’t control Him, but we can see the effects of His work (8).
13. We want to be a church that operates by the Spirit’s power, not the power of the flesh (6).
14. Jesus’ authority is emphasized as as he is “the one who came from heaven” (13).
15. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we’ve all been bit by the venom of sin, and will perish apart from divine rescue (14).
16. God has lovingly provided a remedy for the lethal bite of sin (14-16).
17. Eternal Life is found in believing in the Son who was “lifted up” on the cross for our salvation (14,16).
17. Those who persist in unbelief will perish (18-20).
To name only a few. Also hidden in this passage are many several of MainStreet’s core values including:
1. JESUS FILTER: Everything we do at MainStreet is designed to drive people to a personal encounter with Jesus and to wrestle with his identity and message in ways similar to Nicodemus.
2. LIVING WORD: We believe Jesus speaks and challenges us today in ways just as personal as Nicodemus’s encounter. This happens primarily through the teaching of his Word. Our sermons aren’t meant to merely talk about Jesus, but rather to let him speak afresh today through the proclamation of the Living Word.
3. SPIRIT-DEPENDENT: We want MainStreet to be “Holy ground”, a place where the wind of the Holy Spirit can blow freely among us accomplishing His work: awakening, convicting, comforting, healing, and more.
4. GRACE ABOUNDS: We want MainStreet to be a place where modern-day Pharisees are very uncomfortable. We see the grace of Jesus throughout the conversation with Nicodemus: receiving him in his doubts, patiently revealing spiritual truths, inviting him to exchange man-made religion for a Spirit-empowered faith, etc. Ultimately, we find ourselves completely at the mercy of God to receive this New Birth and salvation that comes only by the giving of his only begotten Son.
Again, we’ve only scratched the surface of John 3. But I hope we’ve all benefited from this initial exploration of Nicodemus’ conversation with Jesus. One final challenge:
We never learn for sure what became of Nicodemus. Did he become a committed follower of Jesus? Did he experience the New Birth? Or did he remain in darkness, too afraid to come into the light? We get positive hints in John 7:50 and 19:39. But never do we get overwhelming evidence that he became a disciple.
What about your life? Years after you’re gone from this earth, will people know without a shadow of a doubt your level of commitment to Christ? Will people be left guessing about your level of faith?