If we would be effective â€śfishers of men,â€ť we must follow Jesus (Matt. 4:19). In John's gospel we see God's love for the individual. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, Who goes after the one lost sheep. He testified of Himself, â€śFor the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.â€ť In religion, men seek God; in Christianity, God seeks men.
First in chronological order of Christ's in-depth dealing with sinners was Nicodemus. In the first eleven verses of John chapter three, Jesus emphasizes the need for the new birth from God's standpoint. He doesn't tell Nicodemus how to appropriate the new birth until the ranking Pharisee has admitted his ignorant unbelief (vv. 10-12). Then, beginning in verse 13, Jesus unfolds the human side of salvation which climaxes in that marvelous 16th verse that promises everlasting life to the one that â€śbelievethâ€ť in the â€śonly begotten Son.â€ť
There is so much we can learn from the Master's dealing with Nicodemus. His interaction with this â€śmaster of Israelâ€ť was on three progressive levels:
1) Face to face (vv. 2 and 3) 2) Mind to mind (vv. 4-8) 3) Heart to heart (vv. 9-21)
We, too, must insist on the absolute necessity of the new birth â€“ especially with moral and religious people. Even as Jesus gave an implied invitation to â€ścome to the lightâ€ť in verse 20, let us close our witness by giving an opportunity to receive the gift of eternal life by believing in the â€śonly begotten Son of God.â€ť Although Nicodemus did not immediately receive Jesus as the Christ, the seed sown at this nocturnal encounter would eventually bare fruit. By the time of Christ's resurrection, he became an open follower (John 19:39).
Bob Vradenburgh is the senior pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has spent 40 years in full-time Christian service: the first 20 years as a missionary and the past 20 years in the pastorate. Bobâ€™s passion is the expository preaching of Godâ€™s Word,...