The Three-Fold Testimony
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know You are a teacher come from God; For no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to Him “most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again,’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “how can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our Witness. 12 If I have told you earthy things and you do not believe, how will you belief if I tell you heavenly things?”
Oh, how these words spoken by Christ out of love for Nicodemus, must have stung the heart of this proud religious leader. Think about it for a moment. For any of us that have ever thought we have achieved a level of success in our chosen profession, and then to suddenly be told, “Hey, you aren’t as smart as you thought you are.” The words would not only sting, but be humiliating.
How would you respond to these words spoken by Jesus? There are three responses one can have after such a stinging rebuke. (1) You can get mad. (2) You can continue as if nothing was ever said. (3) Or you can go back and look at what the person is truly trying to say. Then determine there is more to learn, rededicating your life to learning and to the service for others.
The old King James version starts verse eleven with “Verily, verily, I say to you.” For Nicodemus and for us today, this is a wakeup call. Christ is saying, “Hey pay attention! For I have something very profound and important to tell you!” Jesus wants to make sure that this man who is in darkness and came to him from the darkness of his heart hears and understands what is about to be said. So, Christ says to Nicodemus and to us today, “Hey You, Pay Attention Here!”
“Verily, Verily I say to you, We speak of what We know and testify of what We have seen, and you do not receive Our Witness. Notice all the capitalized letters in verse 11. Each time the word “We” is used and then when the word “Our” is used it is capitalized.
It was becoming evident that Nicodemus, even though he was a religious leader and teacher of the people failed to know much about the plan of salvation. The Knowledge he did have was theoretical in nature and not of the heart. To make matters worse, it was based upon a false theory of salvation because of an incomplete understanding of the scriptures and the influence of manmade traditions.
If Nicodemus had experienced the new birth as Christ was describing earlier, he would not only understand it for himself, but he would be able to speak of it intelligently to others. In verse eleven, Jesus is plainly pointing out to Nicodemus and to us today that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have plainly pointed out the path to Salvation to all those that diligently search the scriptures. For, within the writings of the sacred scriptures is all the evidence necessary for salvation. Salvation therefore is not to be found through man made traditions, but only through the sure word of the scriptures is salvation and the prophecies concerning the Messiah to be found.
By the way, Nicodemus being both a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin would have had the entire sacred scriptures memorized. Yet despite all this head knowledge, he and the other religious leaders failed to understand the true nature and character of God. Despite all the testimony brought to light in the scriptures, Nicodemus and most of the religious leaders of his time had the head knowledge but not the heart knowledge of the scriptures. They had failed, despite all the invitations, to establish an intimate relationship with God which is what God is longing for the most.
Therefore, Jesus said to this learned man of Israel, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”
“Oh Nicodemus, if you persist in misunderstanding the things so plainly revealed in the scriptures concerning salvation and the Messiah, then you will find yourself among the class of perverse souls who receive him not.”
Earthly things referred to here are the elemental principles of salvation such as the new birth. In contrast, to heavenly things which would be the deeper mysteries of God into which, perhaps, only a teacher in Israel should know but appears to not have known that which Christ spelled out before this proud Pharisee.
Nicodemus like so many of us, including myself daily continue to struggle with the elementary principles of salvation and so are unprepared to discuss the more profound truths concerning the Gospel. Therefore, unless we develop an intimate relationship with Christ we could find ourselves on the outside looking in.
For you see, none of us can speak with authority regarding salvation and the Messiah unless we have an intimate relationship with Christ. It is Christ and Christ only that is the author and finisher of our faith and the means of our salvation.
In our next post we will continue this midnight discussion between Nicodemus and Jesus