While Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival (29), he did various miracles, which inspired many people to proclaim their trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust all those people, because he understood their nature; he knew that human hearts are fickle.
There was one person named Nicodemus, a religious leader who was a member of the Pharisees, a strict sect of the Jews. One night Nicodemus went secretly to Jesus and said, “Teacher, I can see that you have come from God. No one could do your miracles unless God were with him.”
Jesus responded in an unexpected way: “The truth is that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “But how can a grown man be born again?” Nicodemus asked. “He can’t go back into his mother’s womb and then be reborn as a baby!”
Jesus replied, “The truth is that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born both physically and spiritually. Physical birth comes from human parents, but spiritual birth comes from God.
“Don’t be surprised or confused by this. There are many things that you know are true, but that you don’t fully understand. For example, you know that the wind blows, because you hear its sound & see its effects, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it’s going. Spiritual birth is like that. You see its effects, but you don’t fully understand where it comes from or where it may be leading.”
Nicodemus seemed totally confused, so Jesus said, “How can you call yourself a religious teacher if you don’t understand these basic things about God? I know what I’m talking about, but you & the other religious leaders are so unwilling to accept my teaching. If you don’t believe me when I tell you the truth about this life on earth, how will you ever believe me when I tell you the truth about the next life in heaven?”
Jesus went on, “Look, no one has ever fully experienced heaven except me. You remember how Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert?
“Well, in this place, at this time, I must also be lifted up. Everyone who believes in me can have new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after physical death. God loves the world so much that he sent me, his only son, to let you know this & to make this possible.
“God has not sent me at this time to judge the world, but to save the world. Whoever believes in me is saved from God’s judgment, but whoever doesn’t believe in me will be judged by God for their unbelief.
“God has sent light into the world, but too many people love darkness, supposing it will hide their evil deeds from God. People who do evil things hate the light and won’t come to the light, because they don’t want their evil deeds to be exposed.
“But people who truly live for God come to the light, and the light shows that they live by obeying God.”
(29) John 2:23-3:21