John 3:1-4 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 these miracles that thou do, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said 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?
There was a man – Nicodemus, ruler of the Jews; He was a Jewish Rabbi, member of the Sanhedrin, and one of the three richest men in Jerusalem. He came to Jesus (John 3:1); He testified for Him (John 7:50-51); and He did service for Him (John 19:39).
Nicodemus didn’t come to Jesus by night because of personal shame like the disciples in John 20:19. It was more from fear than shame (John 7:50; 19:38-39). Through centuries Christians who were not ashamed of Christ did do things for fear of persecutors and this was wisdom in most cases.
‘We know that thou art a teacher come from God’ – evidently, the rulers had come to this conclusion, but the majority were too rebellious, to be honest, and sincere.
‘God be with him’ – the secret of power (Acts 10:38) for those who belong to God.
‘Except a man be born again,’ the Greek word for born is gennethe, and again is anothen, which means to be begotten from above. It literally means there must be a transformation from God and a renewal in righteousness and true holiness to be saved (2Cor. 5:17-21; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 1:13-14, 20; 2:12-17; 3:1-16).
‘He cannot see the kingdom of God’ the Greek word for ‘to see’ is eidon, which is not so much the mere act of looking, but the actual perception of the kingdom and its realities.
‘Be born’ Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus and thought only in human terms. Millions today make the same mistake in comparing the new birth with the old birth. This is the very thing Jesus did not want men to do (John 3:12). The truth is: one is a begetting and a coming into existence; the other is an adoption (Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).