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3. Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2The 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 these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

22After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

23And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24For John was not yet cast into prison.

25Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease. 31He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

13. No one hath ascended to heaven. He again exhorts Nicodemus not to trust to himself and his own sagacity, because no mortal man can, by his own unaided powers, enter into heaven, but only he who goes thither under the guidance of the Son of God. For to ascend to heaven means here, “to have a pure knowledge of the mysteries of God, and the light of spiritual understanding.” For Christ gives here the same instruction which is given by Paul, when he declares that

the sensual man does not comprehend the things which are of God,
(1 Corinthians 2:14;)

and, therefore, he excludes from divine things all the acuteness of the human understanding, for it is far below God.

But we must attend to the words, that Christ alone, who is heavenly, ascends to heaven, but that the entrance is closed against all others. For, in the former clause, he humbles us, when he excludes the whole world from heaven. Paul enjoins

those who are desirous to be wise with God to be fools with themselves,
(1 Corinthians 3:18.)

There is nothing which we do with greater reluctance. For this purpose we ought to remember, that all our senses fail and give way when we come to God; but, after having shut us out from heaven, Christ quickly proposes a remedy, when he adds, that what was denied to all others is granted to the Son of God. And this too is the reason why he calls himself the Son of man, that we may not doubt that we have an entrance into heaven in common with him who clothed himself with our flesh, that he might make us partakers of all blessings. Since, therefore, he is the Father’s only Counselor, (Isaiah 9:6,) he admits us into those secrets which otherwise would have remained in concealment.

Who is in heaven. It may be thought absurd to say that he is in heaven, while he still dwells on the earth. If it be replied, that this is true in regard to his Divine nature, the mode of expression means something else, namely, that while he was man, he was in heaven. It might be said that no mention is here made of any place, but that Christ is only distinguished from others, in regard to his condition, because he is the heir of the kingdom of God, from which the whole human race is banished; but, as it very frequently happens, on account of the unity of the Person of Christ, that what properly belongs to one nature is applied to another, we ought not to seek any other solution. Christ, therefore, who is in heaven, hath clothed himself with our flesh, that, by stretching out his brotherly hand to us, he may raise us to heaven along with him.


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