How will you believe heavenly things?
I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak to you of heavenly things? (John 3:12)
Nicodemus had an impressive resume. He was a Pharisee, one of the elite. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, a respected leader of the nation and a person of authority. He was a doctor of the Law, the teacher of Israel. He was one whom others turned to for answers. But now Nicodemus needs answers himself, for the words of Jesus have stirred something deep within his heart. Everything he has ever known and learned has come under question.
So Nicodemus goes to visit Jesus, and John includes the stinging words in his gospel, "at night." Creeping between buildings, staying within the shadows, his face partially covered hoping no one will recognize him, Nicodemus' hunger for truth drives him toward an encounter with Christ.
With one simple phrase, Jesus turned Nicodemus' world upside down. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3). Nicodemus could not understand this, "How can these things be?" For Nicodemus, just being born a Jew was all it took. His heritage was enough to get him into Heaven. But now Jesus was saying it was not. Nicodemus didn't see the spiritual connection or that Jesus meant a spiritual rebirth. "I was born a Jew, the chosen people of God. That's all it takes. Can I enter my mother's womb again?"
Nicodemus was a scholar, a student of the Scriptures, and Jesus referred to him as the teacher of Israel. He had much natural knowledge, yet, he amazingly had little understanding of spiritual things. Some things of God are just too difficult to understand with our natural minds and it takes the Spirit of God to reveal the deeper hidden things of God to us. Paul stated to the church at Corinth, "For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit." (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Jesus knew Nicodemus needed a new way of thinking. But in order for that to happen, Jesus knew first he needed a knew way of living. "You must be born again."