Come, Holy Spirit. Make Us New.
"We know ... " (John 3:2).
Nicodemus claimed to know a great deal about Jesus.
- Jesus had done great miracles.
- These miracles signified that God was with Jesus.
- Jesus was a teacher, sent by God.
He acknowledged that Jesus was a teacher, sent by God, but did he receive Jesus' teaching? This is an important question for us!
Jesus was unimpressed by Nicodemus' claim to knowledge. Nicodemus could know nothing without a new birth (John 3:3).. The new birth was a "must" (John 3:7).
It is possible to know a great deal, and yet know nothing that really matters.
This is true of our society. We have more knowledge than at any other time in human history, yet there's a strange absence of the kind of knowledge which brings meaning to life.
From Nicodemus, we learn that reason can take us on a journey towards faith, but it will not take us all the way to faith (John 3:4:John 3:9).
We may be impressed by the arguments, used to support the Christian Faith, but there comes a point where we must make a decision. The arguments will not compel anyone to become a believer. They may point us in the direction of faith, but they they still leave us with a decision to make.
We may be influenced by the arguments, but the arguments will not make the decision for us. The arguments provide us with information concerning the Christian Faith. We must decide what we will do with this information.
Nicodemus regarded Jesus as "a teacher of Israel", yet he didn't understand Jesus' teaching. Such understanding comes by faith.
It is possible to know very little, and yet know all that you really need to know. Through faith in Christ, we know the true meaning of our life.
It was an emotional response which brought Nicodemus to Jesus. The real problem came when he was faced with Jesus' testimony (John 3:11). He was intrigued by Jesus, attracted to Him. Jesus was calling for more than that, but Nicodemus wasn't ready to take things on to the next stage. He remained an enquirer. Did he ever become a believer? We don't know. What we can say is this: there's a huge difference between being interested in Jesus and being committed to Him. Faith begins with interest, but it doesn't stop there.
How are we to move beyond an emotional pull towards Jesus? How are we to move on to a real faith? We need to use our minds. We need to read the Bible. We need to ask the big questions - Is Jesus more than a good man? Is He more than a great teacher? Is He the Son of God? Is He our Saviour? Our answers to such questions must be more than intellectual assent. There must be more than that. There must be commitment - the giving of our whole life to Jesus.
The new birth is more than being attracted to Jesus. It's more than paying lip-service to Him. It's turning around to face Him. It's making a new beginning with Him, This is no superficial change. It's a complete change in the direction of our life.
Jesus speaks of the wind of the Spirit (John 3:8). We are to stop going against the wind. We are to start going with the wind - moving in the direction of the love of God, moving in the direction of the Saviour, moving in the direction of faith in Christ, moving in the direction of eternal life (John 3:16).
If you go against the wind of the Spirit, you will be blown along by another wind - "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14).
It is the wind of the Spirit that will carry us beyond an emotional pull towards Jesus.
It is the wind of the Spirit that will lead us to "receive the testimony of Jesus" (John 3:11). It is the wind of the Spirit that will take us further than Nicodemus who "came to Jesus by night" (John 3:2). The Spirit does not create secret disciples, people who are ashamed of their Saviour. The Spirit leads us to say, with Paul, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of every one who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Come, Holy Spirit. Make us new - new in our heart, new in every part of our life.