How can these thing be?

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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

Ezekiel chapter 36 verse 26:

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Ezekiel 36.26

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,

14 “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’

Ezekiel 37.14

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,

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants. I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Joel 2.28-29

I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

And at the end of the passage,

32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.

Joel 2.32

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:

31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31.31-34

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,

12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

John 3:12-13

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.

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