You won’t find a passage in the Bible more beloved or quoted than John 3 but why it is so prominent in Christian thinking?
What: The Significance
John 3 starts out as a private conversation and blossoms into the most significant passage in the Bible. It is the focal point of everything in the Old Testament and the summary of everything in the New Testament.
If the Old Testament forms a theological mountain of sorts, the discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus represents the peak. The words in this passage would definitely be high on the list when choosing a motto for Christianity’s family crest: Ye Must Be Born-Again.
Nic and Jesus conversed only one time but the topic of discussion (the new birth) represents the starting point for every Christian. Christians may disagree on many things but the new birth isn’t one of them. It binds us all together. It’s the starting point and the foundation for every conversation.
That makes it one of the most significant and favorite conversations in the Bible. It is mentioned so often that even people who don’t attend church are familiar with the exchange.
What: The Predicament
The story isn’t complicated. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night, under the cover of darkness. He used the cover of night probably to avoid any backlash for meeting with Jesus, whose recent ministry activities had created quite a division among the Jews.
Nic probably had questions but instead of asking a question, he made a confession.
Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God for no one could do the things you do if God is not with him. (John 3:2)
He called Jesus Rabbi. Some translations use the word Master. Either word makes this a significant conversation. We mustn’t read over that too quickly. Rabbis were the most respected teachers in the community and Nicodemus was a Rabbi. A Rabbi calling Jesus a Rabbi was the equivalent of calling Jesus the Rabbi’s Rabbi, the master’s master.
The interesting point is Nic was moved by Jesus’ actions, not His words.
No man could do what you do except God be with him.
More importantly, though, this observation enabled Nic to recognize Jesus for who He was.
We know you are a teacher come from God.
Teacher, by the way, is another expression of great respect and all of this together reflects Nic’s logic. He saw the miracles Jesus performed (John 2:23). He probably witnessed Jesus cleansing the Temple but instead of taking offense like his fellow teachers, he was compelled to investigate further. Confused maybe. Uncertain, yes, but not indifferent.
While his Rabbi peers were skalking around finding fault, Nic came to the only sensible, logical deduction a person could reach: Jesus wasn’t just another trouble maker. He was from God.
But he couldn’t see further than that truth. His vision was good but only for so far. Jesus was still an enigma hence the reason for the meeting. Nic still had questions. [Read more…] about The What, Why, and How Of Born-Again