Nicodemus says he doesn’t understand. ‘How can these things be?’ He asks
And Jesus said,
‘Well, you should understand what I’m talking about because you’re a teacher of Israel, you’re not one of the am erets (the common people). You should know these things, you should know the scriptures, you should know what God has to say.’
In fact, there are plenty of scriptures in the Hebrew scriptures and the Prophets which indicate what Jesus is talking about. Let’s have a look at one of them in
A new heart and a new spirit.
Has anybody got a new heart and new spirit? You get it through believing in Jesus, don’t you?
There’s Ezekiel, five to six hundred years before Jesus came, prophesying about this new heart and new spirit that’s going to come.
In the next chapter, you have the famous ‘dry bones’ passage in Ezekiel where the wind blows on the dry bones and causes them to rise up as a mighty army.
On one level, this is a picture of the restoration of Israel physically, but it is also a picture of the new life in Jesus.
He says in Ezekiel 37 verse 14,
It says, I’ll put my Spirit within you, or ‘you’ll be born again of the Spirit’.
And the famous passage in Joel chapter 2 which Peter quotes on the day of Pentecost to come to pass afterwards that,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
And at the end of the passage,
So, the prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures speak of the pouring out the Spirit, of a new life in the Spirit coming, and indeed, a New Covenant coming according to Jeremiah chapter 31:
The promise of the New Covenant!
In the New Covenant, God is going to forgive your sin, you’re going to come to know God. God is going to write His Law on your heart by the Holy Spirit.
Does anybody have that experience?
You look a bit doubtful!
Well, if you believe in Jesus, you should be born again and know your sins are forgiven and have the Law of God written on your heart by the Holy Spirit.
These things are written in the Hebrew scriptures, and I think Jesus is actually saying to Nicodemus:
‘Think about the scriptures Nicodemus. Think about what I’m telling you: new birth, new covenant, being born again, receiving the Holy Spirit, having a new heart and a new spirit. That’s what the Messiah is going to bring, that’s what I’m bringing to you.’
And Nicodemus should know about these because he’s the teacher of Israel and these things are in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Going on, Jesus says,
Jesus is making an amazing statement about himself here. He’s saying,
‘Okay, you’re the teacher in Israel, you’ve got the scriptures, you’ve got God to teach you things, but there’s something even greater than this. You can have what I have, to give to you. What I have, to give you is unique because I am not just like another human teacher (whether a good teacher or a bad teacher), because I’ve come down from heaven to tell you these things.‘
Jesus is saying,
‘I know what I’m talking about. I don’t talk about because I have walked in heaven. I am, in fact, the Great I AM who’s there from the beginning to the end. So, I can tell you these things with authority because I have seen them and heard them, and I know that what I’m telling you is the truth.’
And that’s what is different about Jesus from every other religious teacher, the fact that you can think of them whether they are a good teacher or a bad teacher, yet none of them have been to heaven, and none of them have known the God who is teaching them about these things. Only Jesus has.
That’s why Jesus is the One Way that we can get to heaven, because He’s the One Person who has come from there to make the Way open for us to get into a relationship with God.
Therefore, Jesus is saying that He’s got authority. The prophets spoke what was true from God but Jesus is leading it to another dimension because He has come from God to tell you these things so that you can understand them.
Everything that Jesus tells us about heaven, about how to get there, has the authority of One who has been there and who can tell us with truth how we, as people who are far from God, can become the children of God and receive new life.