Friday, April 7, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 9, 2017

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JESUS AND NICODEMUS
(JESUS is GOD’s greatest expression of love)
(John 3:1-21)

   Nicodemus was a member of the “Sanhedrin”, the ruling council, or, governing body of religion and state under Rome. He was a Pharisee who had zealous dedication to GOD’s Law. He was also “a teacher of Israel”, and held the distinctive office of being an authoritative interpreter of Scripture. However, he did come to JESUS with an open mind, intent on listening to the Man, WHOM he himself, had seen perform many miracles.
    Right away JESUS stuns the seasoned scholar by saying to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of GOD” (John 3:3 - KJV). In other words, JESUS was telling a man who was thought to be “spiritual” by almost everyone, including his own self, that, before any spiritual questions can be dealt with, a man must be born anew, spiritually. He would have to be baptized in the SPIRIT that JESUS HIMSELF would later impart (in the person of the HOLY SPIRIT) to anyone that believes in HIM. And even though the concept of a “spiritual rebirth” is clearly evident in the Old Testament also, here, Nicodemus is still, clearly confused by this divine revelation of truth that JESUS has just imparted to him (John 3:4).
    JESUS further elaborates on HIS prior statement regarding spiritual rebirth in verses 5-7, by stating, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of GOD without being born of water, and, the SPIRIT”. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the HOLY SPIRIT gives new life from Heaven” (NLT). In other words, JESUS is saying that, the first requirement for a person to be eligible for the kingdom of GOD is that GOD has to allow that person to exist in the first place. When a woman’s “water” breaks after the fullness of the time of her pregnancy, a person, or persons are born into the world and human life begins its journey in earnest in the physical world. However, only through accepting CHRIST JESUS, first with our lips, and then, in our hearts, (and thereby, inviting the HOLY SPIRIT to dwell within us), can a person ever receive a new spiritual, eternal life in Heaven. 
    To be “born again” is the phrase that clearly describes the goal of the aspiring Christian. It is the true Christian’s desire, that GOD will exact HIS divine power upon our lives with a “moral infusion” that will transform us into a people that can, at all times, reflect HIS image to others, through our own behavior. And just as “Natural Birth” marks the beginning of our new life in the physical world, and makes us “children of man”, “Spiritual Birth” marks the beginning of our new life in CHRIST JESUS, and makes us “children of GOD” (John 3:5-6).
    At this time, JESUS responds with a question of HIS OWN, by asking Nicodemus, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these thing (v. 10 – KJV)? In other words, HE was asking him, “aren’t you a respected Jewish teacher and yet you don’t understand these things?” If you don’t believe the things that GOD is doing on earth, you can’t possibly believe the things that are done in Heaven” (John 3:10-12).
    Then, after giving Nicodemus a prophetic revelation of how HIS earthly ministry would end (Verses 13-15), JESUS goes on to utter what is, arguably, the most well known verse in all of Scripture, when HE states, “For GOD so loved the world, that HE gave HIS only begotten SON, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 - KJV).
    It is “the statement” in Scripture that, perhaps, more clearly than all other statements, reveals to us that “GOD’s motivation towards HIS people is “love”. It is a love that is not limited to a few, or, just to a single group of people. GOD’s gifts of Love and Salvation are for everyone who dares to believe. GOD’s purpose in sending HIS OWN SON (HIS first advent) is for our “Salvation”, and not for our “condemnation”. In fact, there is no judgment awaiting those who believe.
    The “lost sinners” are those who do not accept CHRIST JESUS as their LORD and SAVIOR, and by rejecting HIM, “they already stand condemned” (are already judged). They will remain lost, unless they put their trust and faith in CHRIST JESUS, while they yet live (v. 18).
    The Scriptures tell us that their judgment (the lost person) is based on this fact: “the LIGHT from Heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the LIGHT, for their actions were evil. They hate the LIGHT because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the LIGHT for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. But those who desire to do what is right come to the LIGHT gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what GOD wants” (Vs. 19-21 - NLT).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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