Division Among the People

John 7:40-53 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, this is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said that Christ come of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have you not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spoke like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who know not the law are cursed. Nicodemus said unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Do our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he does? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look: for out of Galilee arise no prophet. And every man went unto his own house. 

There was division amongst the people whether Jesus was a Prophet or the Christ. The fourth Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled with Christ being born in Bethlehem and of David’s seed (Isa. 11:1, 10; Jer. 23:5; Mic. 5:1-2).

They laid no hands on Him because they were powerless to arrest Him, not being permitted by God.

The chief priests and Pharisees asked the officers if they were also deceived by Jesus because none of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in Him. Rulers believing a thing or not, does not prove it to be right or wrong. This is a standard held too long now by too many people. Many rulers did believe in Him (John 12:42; 19:38-39). They also stated that the people did not know the law and were therefore cursed. Neither knowing the law nor keeping it saves the soul. The law only condemns and makes guilty (Rom. 3:9-23; 7:7-25; 1Jn. 3:4).

Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee as well as a disciple of Christ, stated that their law doesn’t judge anyone before hearing him and know what he knows.

The chief priests and Pharisees stated ignorance of facts that some claimed to know in John 7:27, that when the Messiah would be born He would hide Himself and that when He appeared no man would know from where He had come. Christ was not born in Galilee, but in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1-23; Luke 2:1-52). If they had searched they would have found that Jonah, Hosea, Elijah, Elisha, and others were from the Northern kingdom and not from Judea.

The Son of Man Be Lifted Up 

John 3:9-14 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and know not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up 

The question Nicodemus asked Christ should have been clear to him if he had known such Scripture as Jeremiah 31:33; 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:25-27; Psalm 51:10; Isaiah 1:18-20; 55:6 which says “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

‘Art thou a master of Israel, and know not these things?’ Jesus expected him to know the Scriptures enough to be saved, but he was like most people today, even many ministers who do not know what the new birth is.

‘You receive not our witness’ This is the only hint that Nicodemus at this time went away in doubt about spiritual things, but later it is clear he accepted them (John 19:39).

The earthly things in this passage are in John 3:6 and 8 and the heavenly in John 3:3, 5, 6 and 8.

The Greek word for ‘ascended up’ is anabaino which means to go up of own power, not taken up as was Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5), Elijah (2Kin. 2:11), Paul (2Cor. 12:1-3), and John (Rev. 4:1). This refers to the ascension of Christ (John 3:13; 6:62; Acts 1:11; Lk. 24:51; Eph. 4:8-10). Christ ascended and came back before His final ascension to heaven to stay (John 20:17).

The verse ‘is in heaven’ proves that Jesus had already ascended when John wrote this book; that the conversation with Nicodemus ended with John 3:12; and that Jesus was now in heaven.

The fourth New Testament prophecy in John that is fulfilled ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up (Num. 21:9; John 8:28; 12:32, 34; 1Pet. 2:24). It behoved Christ to be crucified in order to fulfil prophecy and to redeem man (Lk. 24:26, 46; Acts 3:18; 17:3).

Be Born Again

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).