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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012



John Three

Sermon of the Week #200847 – November 30, 2008

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do the miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him.”

As we read this story and observe the exchange of words between the Lord and Nicodemus, there are certain terms used that get our attention.


One word that reaches out and grabs our attention is the word NIGHT.  Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. This word night seems to have special emphasis, especially when we consider that Nicodemus is mentioned three times in scripture and each time we are reminded that he came to Jesus by night. It may appear that he came by night being a ruler of the Jews because he did not want anyone to know he was interested in the Lord. So he came to Jesus in the dark of the night.

There are many like Nicodemus who prefer to keep a low profile on their relationship with the Lord and seem to refrain from looking too religious before their irreligious friends. It is good to serve the Lord as long as you keep on good terms with the devil.

We wonder what this night-time visitor thought of the words of Jesus when the Lord said in verses 19 and 20 that the light is come into the world, and men love the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works be reproved.

Those who are in the dark do not want their sins reproved. That is why so much preaching today has little to say about repentance. People don’t want to hear it. One popular preacher was written up in the news and explained his reason for success was not preaching about sins and judgment. It makes people feel worse after services than when they came in. It appears the best program is a low profile on repentance, and much stress on how much God loves them.

In John 7, the second time Nicodemus is mentioned is when he who came before by night, asked his fellow rulers if our law condemns a man before he can be heard. They sneered at him. Nicodemus at this point seems to be coming into the twilight.

The third time he is mentioned in John 19 after the crucifixion when the Apostle says, “Then came Nicodemus, he who came to Him by night, and they took Him down from the cross.” At last, he who came to Him by night came to Jesus in the daylight.

Jesus reminds us of the danger of walking in the dark in John 12:25 when He said, “He that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whether he goeth.” There are many references to this. The five foolish virgins in Matthew 25 did not know they were walking in the dark. It was at midnight the cry was heard, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him,” and the door was shut. Think also of the unprofitable servant in the same chapter who was cast out into the outer darkness, and the rejecters of the gospel invitation, in Matthew 22, who were bound hand and foot and cast out into the outer darkness.

Then there is the rich man in Luke twelve of whom Jesus said, “This night is thy soul required of thee, and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be?” Who can forget Judas on the night of betrayal in John 13 when the Apostle tells us, “And straightway Judas went out and it was night.” Judas left the light and went out into eternal darkness. And we must make passing reference of some of the fallen angels, when Jude remind us God has kept in everlasting chains unto darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Some seem to prefer the dark rather than the light, as we are told in John 1, “The light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” Some are so accustomed to the dark that they think they are walking in the light. At first, going into a theater everything seems pitch-dark. After we sit there a while we get accustomed to the dark and we can see much better. People in modern America have seen so much porn in magazines and some movies in various degrees that they have become accustomed to it and think they are in the light. Remember how it is with people who work in keeping the peace; it is not just a coincidence that in darkened areas they carry nightsticks for their protection and for ours.

The Christian’s battle against the forces of evil is a battle in the dark. In Ephesians 6 Paul reminds us, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places.” Our fight is against a spiritual enemy, invisible and in the dark. The devil is the king of the night.

But the Christian is not left defenseless; we have a spiritual enemy that cannot be seen, but we have been given spiritual weapons that can help us overcome. In Romans 13 Paul instructs us to put aside the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. The best way to overcome the darkness of a room is to turn on the light. In Psalm 119:105 it is written, “Thy word is a lamp unto our feet.” That lamp of the Word of God will lighten our way from the darkness of this world into the Heaven where John writes in Revelation 22, “And there shall be night no more.”

Most Christians, it seems are walking around in semi-darkness since they depend on the word of the preacher and spend little time with the only sure guide we have; the Word of God that is a lamp unto our feet.


And now another word that comes to our attention is the word WIND. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except one be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it will and thou hearest the sound thereof, and knowest not whether it cometh, or whether it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”

This statement helped Nicodemus understand the new birth. We cannot see wind, but we know that it does exist because we see the power of it. The new birth is an obvious reference to the ordinance of baptism. A baptism by immersion is a picture of a birth; coming up out of the water, and as Paul says in 1st Corinthians 12:13, “Baptized by one Spirit into the one body.”

We can see a baptismal ceremony; but like the wind we cannot see how a person buried in the water is buried with Christ in baptism, and contacts His saving blood in the act of forgiveness of sin. Remember, we are not required to understand everything the Bible teaches, but we are required to believe it.

So Nicodemus came to Jesus in the dark, but Jesus was willing to talk to him just as he was and His counsel finally led him into the right direction from the darkness into the light.

We need to remember there are other winds that blow besides the wind of the Holy Spirit. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians Paul speaks of false doctrine. Listen as he says, “Be no longer children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error.”

In the eleventh chapter of Matthew we find an apt illustration of how false doctrine works. Jesus asked the multitudes concerning John the Immerser, “What went ye out to see; a reed shaken by the wind?” A reed grows by the riverbank and will bend whichever the wind blows. His question was, “Is this what you were looking for in a preacher? One who bends to whatever prevailing wind is blowing at the time?”

That reminded me of the teacher years ago that went to get a job at the local school system. The powers-that-be asked him how he taught geography. He said, “There are two schools of thought on that question. One school of thought teaches that the world is flat. One teaches that the world is round. I am prepared to teach it either way.” There is a disease that has infected the brotherhood in recent years. I have looked through the microscope of faith and I think I have identified the germ. I call it the Bends. Whenever a preacher is infected with the Bends, it isn't long until he comes down with a full-blown case of Benditus.

Our motto should be, “Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.” Today a more appropriate motto would be: Anything goes. Things are not going to get better; they are going to get worse. The wind is blowing hard across the pulpits of the land.

Another teaching regarding the wind is in the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. The baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost is described in the second chapter of Acts as the sound from Heaven like the rushing of a mighty wind. This was the wind of truth.

Remember, this rushing of the mighty wind did not come from the east, north, west, or south. It came straight down from Heaven. The wisdom and information revealed on that day would not be the wisdom of any earthly mortal. This would be the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus to the Apostles, that when the Holy Spirit is come, He will guide you into all the truth and bring to your remembrance all things that I said unto you. When the Apostles spoke that day, they spake as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.

The message the Apostles preached that day came down from Heaven with the sound of a mighty wind and under that power they spoke of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and told the inquiring thousands, “Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


One more word that gets our attention in this interview with the Lord and Nicodemus is the word LIFTED. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. The lifting up of the serpent in Numbers 21 is the last miracle God wrought by the hands of Moses.  The first miracle God worked by the hand of Moses was in Exodus 4 when the Lord told Moses to throw down the rod in his hand and it became a serpent. Like two great bookends, the miracle about the serpent is used.

A comparison between the serpent lifted up on the pole and Jesus lifted up on the cross is the fact that the serpent lifted up on the pole in the wilderness had no poison, and Jesus lifted up on the cross had no poison. In Hebrews it is written, “He was tempted in all points like as we are and yet without sin.” The serpent on the pole was in the likeness of the real serpent, and Paul says in Philippians 2, “Jesus considered not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient even unto death, yea the death of the cross.”

The Apostle John seems to make much of Jesus being lifted up. He not only said Jesus was lifted up as the serpent was lifted up, but on two other occasions he refers to the lifting up of Jesus. In 1 John 8 he records the words of Jesus when He said, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man then shall ye know that I AM HE.”

When He was lifted up in this statement Jesus refers to Himself as the, “I AM, I AM He.” Sooner or later the uplifted Christ will be seen as the Great I AM by everyone, “I AM the light of the world. I AM the bread of life. I AM the Good Shepherd. I AM the Resurrection and the life. I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life. I AM the True Vine. I AM the Son of God. Before Abraham was born, I AM. I AM the door of the sheep. I AM the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold I AM alive forevermore.” When ye have lifted up the Son of man then shall ye know that I AM He.

Then again in John 12 the Lord said, “And I, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” But this He said signifying by what manner of death He should die. The lifting up showed the true purpose Jesus came into the world. He came to die on the cross. The devil tried to kill Him before He was born by abortion. Caesar Augustus made a decree that all the world should be enrolled. This law made it necessary for Mary and Joseph to make a long hazardous trip that could cause a woman to lose the baby. The devil had this in mind, but Jesus got away. Then the devil tried to kill Him again in Luke 4 when they led Him to the brow of the hill to cast him down headlong. Again Jesus got away. Again the devil tried to kill Him in John 8 by getting Him stoned, “They took up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple,” and Jesus got away. Finally the devil thought he had won, when Jesus was crucified on the cross, but He arose from the dead early on the third day and Jesus got away; the way He had planned. The Son of man must be lifted up.

Another reason Jesus said He would be lifted up was because the crucifixion would draw all men unto Him. The power of the cross began to be shown even at the cross. One of the two thieves was drawn to Jesus by the cross. At the moment of His death the Roman Centurion said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Joseph of Arimathea a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, came to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, and there also came Nicodemus. Then it was only fifty days after the crucifixion on the Day of Pentecost, the story of the crucifixion drew 3,000 to accept the terms of pardon given that day as the New Covenant of salvation through the blood of Christ was revealed that would draw all men unto Him. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.

There is a gospel chorus the young people used to sing many years ago that glorified the lifting up of Jesus:

From sinking sand He lifted me;

With tender hand He lifted me.

From shades of nigh

To realms of light,

Oh praise His name He lifted me.

And I, if I be lifted up will draw all men unto me.