3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”"
Nicodemus was a member of the ruling council, a pharisee and a mature man (he was not young). He was aware of Jesus and he acknowledged Jesus. BUT, he came alone at night. He doesn't acknowledge Jesus in public though. Jesus knows what's really going on inside Nicodemus. He says to him,
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]” John 3:3
Jesus knew his heart. Nicodemus was wondering what Jesus had that he could add to what he already had? He was hoping for a self-improvement class from him.
Jesus says He wants all or nothing. Gospel doesn't add to who we are. Gospel gets rid of who we are and makes us new creatures. It transforms us. Tear down and start over. We can't just add Jesus to our ready-made life. Jesus must become our life.
Am I Nicodemus? Am I trying to do it my way rather than Jesus' way?
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” John 3:4
"Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit." John 3:5
Water is the justification, the forgiveness of our sins. Can't have the Spirit without repentance.
"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impuritiesand from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:25-26
Nicodemus didn't think he needed new birth.
"Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[a] gives birth to spirit." John 3:6
Jesus didn't give Nicodemus easy answers. He didn't give him steps to take to be saved.
"You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[a]must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[b]" John 3:7-8
You can't give yourself new birth. Nicodemus was probably offended by this point.
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" John 3:9-12
Are you, am I, leaning on our own understanding?
"one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[a] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[b] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”" John 3:13-15
God's message is confrontational. Nicodemus would have got this reference. The people who were bitten by the snakes had to look to the snake, to the representation of their own sin, to be saved. Just like we do with Jesus -- who became our sin on the cross.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
We did nothing to deserve salvation. Jesus struck Paul blind so Paul could see. Pharisees weren't made overnight. We are nothing without Him. Are you part of the radical change or are you a pharisee? The Cross is uncomfortable. Carrying the cross is uncomfortable. If it isn't, then something's wrong.