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Nick at Nite! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
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August 7, 2022 6:00 am

Nick at Nite! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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August 7, 2022 6:00 am

The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.

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Jesus knew the thoughts and the hearts of all men.

He didn't need anybody to testify, man. He knew what was in him. So here comes Nicodemus. Jesus knows what is in him.

He's thinking about the kingdom. And he comes and says some nice things, and Jesus just says, Nicodemus, I know you might have come here for a teaching, but what you really need and what your heart is crying for is a do-over. Welcome to Connect with Skip weekend edition. John 3 16 is a great verse, a life-changing verse, but there's more to the story. In fact, by taking a closer look at everything that surrounds that famous quote, we might just find some ways to share it even more effectively. Skip Heitzig examines the conversation that took place around that famous verse and how its context is almost as important as the verse itself.

But first, let's see what's going on in the Connect with Skip Resource Center this month. Life is hard, and then we die. That is a harsh but accurate philosophy. Listen to this gentle encouragement. But God.

That's right. In the most difficult circumstances, God can intervene, as he did for Joseph, Job, and through the resurrection of Jesus. Here's Skip Heitzig. In fact, there may not be two more hopeful words than these two words, but God, because they point us to the great interrupter, the one who can powerfully and graciously interrupt our lives with his plans and change our lives forever. We want to help you understand some of the Bible's most profound but God moments so you can have more hope for change in your own life. Pastor Skip's 10-message teaching series, But God, is our thanks when you give $35 or more today to help connect more people to the only one who can radically change a life.

Get your But God CD collection today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer, or call 800-922-1888. Turn to John chapter three, which is where we'll be for today's study. So as you find that spot, Skip Heitzig gets us started today with an alternate story of the Earth's creation. On the first day, God created the cow. God said, you must go to the field with the farmer all day long, suffer under the hot sun, have calves, and give milk to support the farmer. All right, we'll give you a lifespan of 60 years. The cow said, that's kind of a tough life you want me to have for 60 years. Let me have 20 years and I'll give back the other 40.

God agreed. On the second day, God created the dog. And he said, sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a lifespan of 20 years. The dog said, well, that's too long to be barking.

How about if you give me 10 years and I'll give you back the other 10? So, sigh, God agreed. On the third day, God created the monkey. And God said, entertain people, do monkey tricks, make them laugh. I'll give you a 20-year lifespan. The monkey said, how boring to do monkey tricks for 20 years. The dog gave you back 10.

That's what I'd like to do. Okay? God agreed again. On the fourth day, God created man. God said, eat, sleep, play, enjoy, do nothing.

Just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. And I'll give you 20 years. And man said, what? Only 20 years? Tell you what, I'll take my 20 and the 40 the cow gave back and the 10 the dog gave back and the 10 the monkey gave back. That makes 80. Okay?

Okay. God said, you got a deal. So, that is why for the first 20 years, we eat, sleep, play, enjoy, and do nothing. And for the next 40 years, we slave in the sun to support our family. And for the next 10 years, we do monkey tricks to entertain our grandchildren.

And for the last 10 years, we sit in front of the house and bark at everybody. Which leads me to a question. How happy are you with your life? A New York study group discovered that most Americans admit to not being happy with their present life.

Can you imagine having a whole new life, a brand new life, a do-over, a fresh start? Well, that takes us to John chapter three, the most famous chapter in the Bible. Everybody who's anybody knows John 3 16, the most famous verse in scripture. The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3. But the conversation that spawned that verse is a conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. And it happened at night. And that's why the name of my message, tongue in cheek, is Nick at night.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. And when I gave my life to Christ, I had not ever heard it again. That's because I never read John 3.

The term had not been popularized and politicized. But I did know that after I prayed to receive Christ, I felt something I had never felt before. I couldn't put it into words.

It was like a burden had been lifted and carried away. About a week after that, a friend who did not know of my conversion walked up to me, got right in my face and said, Heitzig, have you been born again? And I said, where did you get that?

He said, get what? I said, that phrase you just said, born again. He said, well, Jesus said, you must be born again, have you? And I said, dude, that's perfect. That is the perfect description of what happened to me.

That's what it felt like. I felt like I've been born again. I had never read that verse.

I had never heard that phrase. But when I did hear it for the first time, I thought that captures perfectly the transformation that has occurred in my life. I've been given a whole new life. But try explaining that to your parents. I tried. They said, what happened to you? I said, I've been born again. Didn't go over that well.

Because they just thought, oh, does that mean you're a Protestant now? When I think of the story of Nicodemus, I think of a friend of mine. You've heard him before, Marty Goetz, who has come and played on many occasions. And you know, when he sings that one song about his own transformation, he says, Hallelujah to Yeshua from a Jew who never knew you. I think of Nicodemus. He didn't know the Lord yet, but he was on a journey there. Now, we're going to look at the first eight verses of John chapter three today, part of this conversation, really the dialogue part of the conversation. Next week, we'll look at the discourse where Jesus does most all of the talking. But there's three different levels of this conversation, three different conditions.

The first one is curiosity. There's a spiritual curiosity that drives Nicodemus to even meet with Jesus. Followed by the second level, eternal necessity. Jesus tells him what he needs more than anything else in life. And then finally, Jesus will close with an illustration.

I'm calling that observable activity. We'll explain as we go, but let's look at the first, the curiosity, the spiritual curiosity. Verse one, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, 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 them. There's three words that describe Nicodemus. He was religious, he was rich, and he was a ruler.

Let me explain. Nicodemus is a Greek name, though he was a Jewish man, that was not all that uncommon. His name means ruler or victor over the people, one who rules over the people. The Talmud tells us that Nicodemus was one of four of the richest men in the city of Jerusalem. Later on, we'll see that he pays for the myrrh and the aloes to bring to the tomb of Jesus, to bury him. He was a wealthy man. He was a Pharisee. And history also tells us that it was Nicodemus' son who later on will negotiate with the Romans the terms of Jewish surrender in 70 AD before the destruction of that city.

A very, very famous man. Now spiritually, verse one, he was a Pharisee. And that's that ultra-orthodox group of Jewish people that were only 6,000 at the time of Christ, very strict, very serious about keeping the law.

In fact, they belonged to what they called the Chaburah, the brotherhood. And the brotherhood of the Pharisees was entered into by a solemn pledge with three witnesses observing. It was a pledge to keep the Pharisees from keeping the law. It was a pledge with three witnesses observing. It was a pledge to keep all of the law all of one's life. Now, when we hear the term the law, you think and I think of the first five books of Moses of the Bible, the Torah, keeping the Torah, the law. But to a Pharisee, there were regulations and rituals called the oral law.

Here's an example. In the Bible, the Old Testament, there's only about three paragraphs that talk about the Sabbath day law, laws for the Sabbath day, Saturday, what to do, what not to do. Only three paragraphs. But there was something called the Mishnah that was added. This was the codified scribal law. 24 chapters of the Mishnah are devoted to laws of keeping the Sabbath. Then there was something called the Talmud. Now, these are rabbinical commentaries on the Mishnah.

It came later on, and the longest of the two Talmuds was the Babylonian Talmud. 156 folio-sized double pages of regulations on keeping the Sabbath. So it wasn't enough to just say don't work on the Sabbath, don't carry a burden on the Sabbath. They needed that specified.

I'll give you just a short example. Well, you can't carry a burden on the Sabbath, but they would say, what is a burden? And so the rabbi said, food equal in weight to a dried fig.

Enough wine for mixing in a goblet, enough milk for one swallow, enough honey to put on a wound, enough oil to anoint a small member, enough water to moisten an eye salve, enough paper to write a customs house notice upon, or enough ink to write two letters of the alphabet. If you did that, you were bearing a burden and you were breaking the Sabbath law. And they would have endless discussions and arguments of, well, can you lift a lamp on the Sabbath? Is that a burden? Does that work? Can you carry a child on the Sabbath?

Does that work? Could you wear artificial teeth on the Sabbath? Would that be bearing a burden? I mean, they would write about this stuff. There's even a whole discussion in the Jewish writings about what do you do if your hand lays an egg on the Sabbath?

What do you do? I mean, you can't eat it. That's eating something that was done that produced work on the Sabbath. So the only solution they really came up with was well, you can sell it to a Gentile.

So number one, you'll get money from it. Number two, he didn't count anyway. One person said, you could eat the egg that was laid by the hen on the Sabbath if you intend to kill the chicken the next day because it broke the law of breaking the Sabbath.

I mean, it was ridiculous. That was the Pharisee group. They were sworn to keep the law, the written law, and the oral law that had been codified. That's Nicodemus religiously. He was a Pharisee. Politically, there's a phrase in verse one, he was a ruler of the Jews. Archon is the Greek word.

It designates a special class of the 70-member ruling council known as the Sanhedrin. This guy was a big dog in Jerusalem, one of the chief leaders of the nation. A third thing that describes him is he was a teacher. Verse 10, Jesus said, aren't you the teacher in Israel? Notice it says the teacher, not a teacher.

In other words, you are in that special class. Now, history tells us that Nicodemus was one of the most famous sought-after lecturers on the law in Jerusalem. So, here's a guy from the who's who of Jerusalem paying a visit on Jesus. Now, it says that he came in verse two at night. Why did he come at night? I don't know how much speculation people write about of why he came at night.

People say, well, he came out of fear because he didn't want to be seen. Maybe. Or he came because there was secret sin in his life, and so he came at night.

Maybe. But it didn't say why. It just says he came at night.

And I wouldn't make a huge deal out of it. I tend to think he came at night just for some quality alone time. The rabbis used to say the best time to study and to discuss the Torah is at night.

You're undistracted. Jesus had crowds of people around him by day. Nicodemus has a lot of busy schedule to keep religiously during the day. So, he came at night for just some quality, undisturbed time for an interview. And really, the important thing isn't that he came to Jesus at night. The important thing is that he came at all. He came. And so, instead of making a big deal and castigating him for coming at night, he came.

You know, it's funny how some people want to get down on those who would come to Jesus for what they call the wrong motivation. Well, you're coming out of fear. Or you're coming because you had a divorce. Or you're coming because you're in physical pain. Or you're at the end of your rope. So, who cares why a person comes?

We're just glad that they do come. And it just happens to be that when you're in a time of pain or distress or loneliness, you're aware of your need at that time more than any other time. You always had the need. You just weren't aware of it then. But now you are. Now you know that you need someone greater than yourself. And that's when many people come to Christ.

We're just glad that they come. Notice that Nicodemus calls Jesus rabbi. Notice that Nicodemus calls Jesus rabbi. That's a term of politeness. In fact, it's a term of equality.

He's saying, I recognize you as somebody on my level. Rabbi. Now, he was wrong about that, of course. Jesus was far more than a rabbi. He certainly was not an equal with Nicodemus.

He was far greater. Nicodemus doesn't know that yet. So, he says rabbi.

And notice the plural pronoun. We know. Not I know, we know. Now, who's we?

He didn't have a mouse in his pocket. Who's you talking about? He's probably not representing the whole council of the 70 elders, the Sanhedrin, but he's speaking about himself and perhaps a few others like Joseph of Arimathea, who would be sympathetic with Jesus because of the signs. And perhaps, perhaps this would be the Messiah.

So, he says, and it's, again, very, very polite. We know that you are a teacher come from God. For nobody can do these signs that you do unless God is with them.

Well, that's where he's wrong. Jesus wasn't a teacher come from God. Moses would be a teacher come from God. Jeremiah, Isaiah, those would be teachers come from God. Jesus was far more than a teacher come from God. He was God who had come to teach. But again, he didn't know that yet. But this illustrates how a lot of people deal with Jesus.

They will recognize him like this, but their answer as to describe him falls far short of his true identity. Jesus, oh, he's a good person. I believe he was a good person. He was a good teacher. He was a great example. True, but he was far more than that.

He was far more than that. He was and is God. And Nicodemus will be leading toward that in this conversation before it's over. Now, what is on his mind? Why does he come to Jesus? He's thinking like all Pharisees thought about the kingdom. He's spiritually curious. Remember, Jesus had been in Jerusalem all week at Passover doing signs and miracles. Everybody knew about him.

Nicodemus heard about them, maybe even saw a couple, maybe even heard Jesus teach, and he was attracted by it. Imagine yourself as a concert piano player. You've been trained by Juilliard School of Music. You have musical degrees. You're a PhD in music, and you can play. You've been trained to play so beautifully after years and years of hard work.

So when you play, people come to watch you. But one day, a country bumpkin blows into town who has never had a single lesson in his life. He just played his grandpa's piano in the Ozark somewhere. And he comes to town, and he starts playing piano, and you listen to this, and you recognize this person is genius. I don't know where he learned to play like that, but when he plays, I am moved to tears, and everybody who hears him is moved emotionally. That's sort of what it was like for Nicodemus, this schooled, cultured leader of the Jews, watching and listening to Jesus. He had never heard truth like that.

He had never seen anything like this. It was like water was poured on his parched soul. He wanted to know more, and so he came. Curiosity brought him. It brings a lot of people. Brought me.

I was channel surfing one afternoon when I watched Billy Graham on television and afterwards prayed to receive Christ. But I remember watching that, and I was just curious. I thought, huh, look at all those people in that stadium. I wonder why so many are coming to this thing. Curious. And then when people left their seats and walked down onto the field to pray to receive Christ, I thought, I wonder why they're doing that, and I wonder what they expect to see.

And I was curious, and that drew me in. It draws Nicodemus in. So that's the first stage, the first level, spiritual curiosity. The second is eternal necessity, for you'll notice in verse three, Jesus answered and said to him, most assuredly, or verily, verily, if you've got the old King Jimmy, literally it's, amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Notice Jesus wastes no time with formalities. Nicodemus comes, he's polite, calls him rabbi, we know that you're a teacher come from God, you do all these miracles. Jesus didn't say, oh, you like those miracles?

They were pretty good, huh? And I've heard a lot of good things about you too, Nicodemus. He just says, right off the bat, assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Now, it sounds like he's not even talking in the same conversation. What is what Nicodemus saying have anything to do with the kingdom of God? It's because Jesus is answering the question Nicodemus never asked with his mouth, but was in his heart.

And it actually makes perfect sense, when you read it in the context of what we read last week, because it is all in the same context. Jesus knew the thoughts and the hearts of all men. He didn't need anybody to testify, man, he knew what was in him. So here comes Nicodemus, Jesus knows what is in him.

He's thinking about the kingdom. And he comes and says some nice things, and Jesus just says, Nicodemus, I know you might have come here for a teaching, but what you really need and what your heart is crying for is a do-over. Unless a man is born again. By the way, whenever Jesus wanted to get your attention, and as if to say, now listen very carefully to the next few words, he would say, most assuredly. Very important. It was important because Nicodemus's destiny will hang on how he listens to what Jesus says and how he responds to it. Everything will stem from this. Well, you know, it's always helpful to get the proper context for something. That's no less true from the Bible's most quoted verse, John 3 16. The whole conversation Nicodemus had with Jesus can help us not only better understand what the verse says, but also how we can be more effective in sharing it with others.

And that's all the time we have for today. But before we go, if you'd like a copy of today's study, it's available on CD for just $4 plus shipping when you call us at 1-800-922-1888 or when you visit connectwithskipp.com. And I also want to remind you that it's because of the support of listeners like you that we're even able to bring you these daily studies. Without your help, getting these teachings from Skip on the radio just wouldn't be possible. Find out how when you write us at P.O.

Box 95707, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87199. We'll continue to learn more about John 3 16 and its greater context than our next study. So I hope you can set aside some time to join us right here on Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast your burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 16:02:17 / 2023-03-09 16:11:18 / 9

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