THE IMPERATIVE OF LIFE

John 2:23-3:21

   It is the apostle John who informs us about the first visit Jesus made to Jerusalem after He began His ministry.  The time was just before the observance of the Passover (John 2:13).  How fitting this was since it celebrated the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and Jesus had just been officially introduced as "The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29).  It was also a time when Jerusalem was swelled with tens of thousands of devout worshippers.

Jesus Appeared Suddenly

     Jesus appeared in the Temple with the impact of a lightning bolt.  With a whip of cords He drove out the money changers and those who sold animals for sacrifice.  This was a fulfillment of both Psalm 69:9 and Malachi 3:1,2.  The question put to Him by the Jews was, "What sign do you show us since you do these things?"  His answer was veiled with mystery they could not comprehend.  "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."  To the credit of the chief priests and Pharisees the meaning dawned on them after His body had been placed in Joseph's tomb (Matthew 27:63).  It was after His resurrection before His disciples understood (John 2:22).

Signs and Miracles

   We are not told what signs and miracles Jesus performed in the Temple but they must have been very impressive for "many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did." (John 2:23).  Nicodemus, who was a member of the body that ruled over Israel in religious matters spoke for the Pharisees when he said, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him (John 3:2).

Both Right and Wrong

     The religious leaders and devout faithful were right when they believed that Jesus was the long promised Deliverer of the Hebrew Scriptures.  They were wrong in their belief that He had come at this time to deliver Israel from servitude to the Roman Empire and lift Israel to a position of domination over all other nations.  All of that awaited His second coming.
     Down through the centuries mankind has had many wrong ideas about Jesus and why He came.  Many have believed that the supreme reason He came was to give a new and improved religious system with improved religious activities.  Others have believed that the supreme reason He came was to correct the physical hurts, the moral evils, the social wrongs and the financial woes of suffering mankind.  Although all these things are good, they are not the supreme reason Jesus came.  Because people were wrong in their expectations of Jesus we are told that "Jesus did not commit Himself to them..."  John 2:24.  He jolted Nicodemus with the real reason and established Life's greatest imperative:  "You must be born again."  John 3:7.  Jesus came so that a mankind spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1 and 5) might be made spiritually alive again and be renewed as the sons and daughters of God.  And how was He going to do it?  Here are His words to Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life".  John 3:14, 15.
     The great imperative for Jesus was to receive the punishment for mankind's sin.  The great imperative for mankind is to be born again.  This happens instantly when they trust Jesus to be their Savior because the great imperative for the Holy Spirit is to give spiritual birth to all who place their trust in Jesus (See John 1:11, 12).

THE NECESSITY OF THE NEW BIRTH

Man's Fallen Nature Requires A New Birth 
     "...We all were by nature the children of wrath..."  Ephesians 2:3.

God's Perfect Nature Requires Man To Have A New Birth
     "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the LORD".  Hebrews 12:14.
     God is a God of holiness, righteousness and justice, as well as a God of love. For man to see God, man must be perfectly holy.  God has provided for man's salvation with His love, but if they do not accept it He will judge them with His justice.

There Is No Substitute. "that which is flesh is flesh."  Man need a holy spiritual nature that only a new birth by the Holy Spirit can give.

The first birth is not enough.
     Nicodemus, a born Jew, needed to be born again.  Regardless of our ancestry, our first birth made us a child of the human race. That is all. Being born in a Christian home does not make one a Christian any more than being born in a garage would make one an automobile.

Religion is not enough.
   (The Pharisees observed 142 religious ordinances every day). Religious Nicodemus needed to be born again. Today men are smearing religion over a corrupt nature. Like a pink ribbon on a pig; it may look nice but the pig is still a pig.

Reformation or morality is not enough. 
      Sins cut off still leave a person with only the nature of the flesh. (Like the sassafras roots down in East Texas that my father told me to cue down.  I did, but they kept growing back.)

Education is not enough.
NicodemusThe teacher of Israel" had to be born again. Verse 10.  This is one point upon which Jesus was dogmatic," YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN..."

THE NATURE OF THE NEW BIRTH -WHAT IS IT?

A Sovereign Change 
   It is like the wind "that blows where it wishes", not where we wish it.  The leaves, grain, etc are stirred only when blown.  Men can be born again only when God moves upon their heart.  Jonah 2:9; John 6:44; Genesis 6:3; Isaiah 55:6

A Perceptible Change.
     "You  hear the sound of it".
     Perceptible within.  "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."  Romans 8:16;  See also. 1st John 5:13.
     Perceptible without.  "...Old things have passed away; behold, all thing have become new."  2nd Corinthians 5:17;   See also 1st Thessalonians 1:4.  A drinking man will lose his love for drink or receive the power to overcome it.  A gambler, an immoral person, or a drug addict will also.

A Mysterious Change.
       "...Cannot not tell where it comes from or where it goes." There is always an uncertainty about weather broadcasts.  In like manner we cannot comprehend or explain the new birth. It's like a brown cow that eats green grass, and gives white milk that makes yellow butter.  It is like electricity or gravity.  We only know that a new nature has been put down inside and God is precious as our Father. 

WHAT THE NEW BIRTH WILL DO.

It Will Forever Remove Our Condemnation. 
   "...And shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."  John 5:24.

It Will Give Us Rejoicing For The Present.
    Jesus told His disciples, "...Rejoice because your names are written in heaven."  Luke 10:20.  Peter wrote, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice..."  1st Peter 1:5,6.

It Gives Us Peace about the Future
     1. You have fear, if bound for the house of execution
     2. You have peace, if bound for your Father's house

HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN.  John 3:14-16.
     Like the serpent in the wilderness was lifted up, even so, Jesus was lifted up on the cross to receive the punishment for our sin. Those who looked to the serpent in faith, received renewed physical life. Those who look to Jesus by faith receive new spiritual life.

Your Part Is Trusting Jesus.

Leave The New Birth Up To God. He Will Not Fail.

     I preached on the New Birth in Vicksburg, Indiana. A man came up to me and said, "I'm the Sunday School Superintendent in a Baptist church, but I've never been born again." Thank God, He was that night.
     A man lived to be 100 years old. He was pottering about in the woods on his 100th birthday and remembered a sermon by John Fletcher when He was 17 on 1st Corinthians 16:22. He was saved on the spot! The Holy Spirit gives us the new birth the instant we place sincere faith in Jesus Christ to save us.

Copyright 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted