Jesus, knowing Nicodemus was both a Jew and a Pharisee, wanted him to know the most important truth – that knowing and/or acknowledging He was from God would not gain Him the kingdom of God. Christ wanted Nicodemus to know that his position in life nor anything he could do, nor any knowledge he attested to could gain him access to the Kingdom of God. He made it clear that only by God giving him life through His Spirit – would he be allowed to enjoy such a privilege. The words Nicodemus spoke were true -Jesus was from God. However, Christ knew his heart and didn’t settle for the “right words” neither did He ignore the words, but instead addressed them by delivering the truly life-changing message of the Gospel.
There is, I believe, a secondary lesson here for believers as well – James’ words that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17) seems fittingly applied – perhaps, even more rightly applied – to knowledge. We cannot just know what God’s Word says and affect change. We must live according to what His Word says, and can only hope to truly do this by the power of His Spirit in us. Think of the disciples – the Gospels teach us that they walked with Jesus, studied under Him, and served with Him for three years – however, the real, lasting, and distinctive change came only after they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8 and 2:1 and following). Christ, Himself, said it was better for Him to go away so that they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). He is Christ’s power in us. It is only through His presence that we are able to be the light and salt and spread the hope of eternal life to those who may know the right words but not the true and living God.
So, here’s my encouragement for today – Let’s live and love like Jesus, who listened intently and spoke boldly. Let’s not be satisfied with merely knowing God but let’s seek a relationship with Him and walk according to the Spirit. When we do this, people will see that we, as Nicodemus said about Jesus, are from God. Then, we – like Jesus – will have the opportunity to give an answer for the hope that is within us.