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Faithlife Corporation

Portraits of Christ: Divine Teacher

Notes & Transcripts

Think of the best or most influential teacher you’ve every had. It was probably someone who was extraordinary in their teaching ability and who instilled in you a passion for learning. My 10th grade World History teacher was Mr Door. He made history come alive for me and I’ve loved the subject ever since.

Now, take that teacher’s personality and their ability to teach and multiply it 10,000 times 10,000 and you’ll gain something of an appreciation of the kind of teacher Jesus was. The Gospels repeatedly tell us that He taught His disciples concerning the things of the Kingdom. His teaching ability and the things He taught were so astounding that the people of His day were absolutely amazed. No one had ever taught like Jesus had taught. In the gospel of Matthew we read: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:28–29, NIV84)

No group of people were more surprised than the people of His home town: “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:53–56, NIV84). The word amazed in both of these passages means to be so amazed as to be practically overwhelmed. The teaching ability of Jesus simply amazed people considering he was supposedly and ‘unlearned’ carpenter’s son.

In this morning’s passage we see one of the greatest teachers of Israel learning from the Master Teacher. It’s the story of Jesus’ encounter with a man named Nicodemus. Even Nicodemus acknowledges Jesus’ teaching ability: “ ... Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” What did Nicodemus learn from Jesus? It’s a profound truth that everyone here this morning needs to understand and learn.

I. JESUS TAUGHT THAT GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE

            1. God has a two-fold purpose for your life today

A. 1st, HE WANTS TO REDEEM YOU AND GIVE YOU ETERNAL LIFE AS A FREE GIFT

            1. the things Jesus said were often very simple, yet profoundly deep and rich in significance, and with eternal implications
            2. Jesus' reply to Nicodemus is a case in point
              • “In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3, NIV84)
                1. Nicodemus pays Jesus, what appears to be a sincere compliment
                2. Jesus ignores it and makes a statement that seems totally irrelevant
                    1. he talks about a Second Birth
                3. Nicodemus is thoroughly confused
                  • “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4, NIV84)
                4. Jesus goes on to explain himself in vv. 5-8
                  • “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5–8, NIV84)
            3. God wants sinners to spend eternity with Him in heaven
                1. this has been the heart of God’s plan since before the beginning of creation
                2. according to 2 Peter 3:9 God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
            4. there is nothing you can do to merit the eternal life God wants to give you through the new birth
                1. you can't buy it by living a good and honest life
                2. you can't inherit it from your parents
                3. you can't bribe God out of it with exemplary moral living
                4. you can’t acquire it through religious ritual
            5. all you have to do to have it is admit that God is right about your life!
              • “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, ... ” (Romans 3:23–25, NIV84)
                1. you have to admit that you are a sinner—that you’ve sinned against a holy God and have fallen far short of His glory
                2. you have to freely receive the justifying grace of God that comes through the redemptive work of Christ Jesus who was our atoning sacrifice
                3. this justifying grace comes through repentance and faith
                    1. repentance is the agreeing part—where you agree with God that you sin is sin and rightly condemns you to an eternal hell
                    2. faith is the receiving part—where you commit you life to Christ and His Lordship over every aspect of your life
                4. no matter how evil you've been, God’s redemption gives you a chance to start over by making you a new creation
                  • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV84)
                5. no matter how good you think you are, God's redemption says you have to start over again
                    1. in the world’s eyes, you may appear a saint worthy of canonization
                    2. in the Lord’s eyes, you are a no-account, unholy, unrighteous sinner and a stench in God’s nostrils who needs the washing that comes through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit

B. 2nd, HE WANTS TO GIVE YOUR LIFE PURPOSE AND MEANING

    • "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV84)
            1. Satan is the great thief and adversary of God’s people
                1. Satan will give you abundance, but it’s always an abundance that is counterfeit and ultimately steals and kills and destroys your spiritual life
                2. he wants to steal your joy, kill your relationship with God and destroy your hope in Christ
                    1. and he’ll accomplish this destruction through material possessions, and misplaced feelings and inappropriate relationships
                      • ILLUS. Television commercials claim that the abundant life comes with drinking beer, wearing certain kind of tennis shoes, or driving a certain type of car. You can’t find abundant living in a can or in a bottle or a pair of tennis shoes or a car. You can’t find abundant life in a capsule or a pill or in cocaine or marijuana or any kind of drug. You can’t find abundant life in promiscuous sex and ungodly relationships.
            2. Jesus, however, gives his followers life and makes that life abundant
                1. one of the important lessons Christians need to learn is that Jesus’ promise of life abundant does not necessarily mean an abundance of stuff
                    1. it does, I think, mean an abundance of Christ’s character in us
                    2. abundant living does not exist until we have completely committed ourselves to Jesus Christ
                    3. life abundant means being infused with God’s life
                2. this abundance comes by living your life according to God’s Word
                  • “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:2–3, NIV84)
                    1. immersing ourselves in the Word of God is like planting your fruit trees next to a constant supply of water
                    2. in due season, the abundance of fruit will be simply spectacular
                3. this abundance comes by living in fellowship with Christ and with His people
                    1. it means longing deeply for God and the things of God and the people of God
            3. now, please understand, abundant life in Christ doesn't necessarily mean the absence of tension or turmoil
                1. it does mean the presence of spiritual peace in the midst of tension and turmoil
            4. abundant life in Christ doesn't necessarily mean financial success and the accumulation of material wealth
                1. it does mean the availability of spiritual wealth in spite of material poverty
            5. it took me 18 years to understand that God really was interested in me and had a marvelous plan for my life
                1. He has kept His promises to me
                2. He has done exactly what He said He would do
                    1. He has given me eternal life through Christ
                    2. He has made my life full and abundant

II. JESUS TAUGHT THAT MAN HAS A PROBLEM WHICH KEEPS HIM FROM EXPERIENCING GOD'S PLAN

            1. that problem is our rebellious nature and the sin it produces

A. THE LOST MAN IS A SINNERS BY CHOICE

    • Isa. 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way . . ."
            1. this is why you need to be born again—you’re lost—you are like a wandering sheep who’s gone astray and is become lost!
                1. everyone of us—since the time we knew the difference between right and wrong—has chosen to live our own way rather than God's way
                2. we choose to live life by our own will instead of surrendering to God's will
                3. we have purposely chosen to walk the broad road of self-autonomy that leads away from God rather than the narrow path of self-denial that leads to God
            2. what is "sin" you ask?
                1. sin is rebellion against the authority of God
                  • ILLUS. Our rebellion against God's authority bears a striking resemblance to the willfulness of our own children. Have you ever told your child to do something only to have them stand their ground, square their shoulders, raise their head and answer, "I will not!" That's how the sinner responds to God.
                2. sin is trespassing over the divine boundary of good into evil, of knowing what's right and choosing to do wrong
                3. sin is missing the mark of being just like Jesus and never being able to measure up to God's expectation for us no matter how hard we try
            3. every part of your personality—your mind, your will and your emotions—has been distorted and spoiled and abased by a spiritual cancer that invades every aspect of your life
                1. that spiritual cancer the Bible calls sin
            4. because we are sinners by choice each of us stands condemned before a holy God
                1. we are totally helpless to save ourselves from this situation
                  • “In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3, NIV84)

B. THE LOST MAN IS SPIRITUALLY BLIND

            1. when Nicodemus heard that he "must be born again" he had no idea of what Jesus was talking about
              • “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4, NIV84)
                1. Nicodemus was spiritually blind even though he had a lot of religious knowledge
                  • ILLUS He had a Ph.D. in Hebrew Religion, but failed Salvation 101.
                  • “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” (John 3:10, NIV84)
                2. Nicodemus was in the dark about spiritual truth that really mattered
            2. a lot of people are still in the dark about God's simple plan of salvation
                1. they refuse to acknowledge they have a problem that they need to deal with
                  • ILLUS. Being blind for ten days after a hockey accident. I still tried to do everything myself. I did not want to admit that I had a problem and that I need help doing things.
            3. the devil has convinced the spiritually blind that they don't need any help
              • “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, NIV84)

C. THE LOST MAN IS DOOMED

            1. in v. 14 Jesus refers to an incident in the Old Testament "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert ...”
            2. the story is told in the O.T. Book of Numbers
                1. the Israelites had been complaining – again
                  • Num. 21:4-5 " ... But the people grew impatient . . . they spoke against God and against Moses ... “
                2. so God sent venomous snakes among them and many of them died
                3. they repented of their attitudes and asked Moses for mercy
                4. Moses prayed and God answered
                  • “The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” (Numbers 21:8, NIV84)
            3. the person who was too stubborn or prideful to accept God's remedy was doomed—they would die
            4. the individual who will not cast his or her eyes upon the cross of Calvary and accept God's remedy for their life is doomed
                1. the Bible plainly teaches that only those who personally, consciously, and explicitly confess Jesus Christ as Lord possess eternal life
                    1. all others will face the holy and just wrath of God in hell throughout eternity
                2. this is a conviction that is not politically correct in today’s pluralistic society
                  • ILLUS. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke to this issue last year when he wrote: “In this age, few are offended by the claim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The problem comes when those last words of Jesus are cited: “no one comes to the Father, but by Me.” [John 14:6] The temptation to avoid the offense of the particularity and exclusivity of the gospel is powerful. Given the hatred directed toward any exclusive truth claim – much less this exclusive truth claim – many are tempted to embrace some form of universalism or inclusivism. But the problem is clear – the New Testament excludes any inclusivist or universalistic rendering of the gospel of Christ. We are simply left no option but the full force of Christ’s claims. If we are not faithful in defining the gospel, we will avoid offending people at the cost of misleading them – a failure with eternal consequences.”
                3. unfortunately, younger Evangelical Christians are ‘growing soft’ on this foundational truth
            5. it will never be socially acceptable to preach the exclusivity of the gospel in our society—but if Jesus taught it—we must, too

III. JESUS TAUGHT THAT GOD HAS MADE A PROVISION FOR YOUR SINFUL CONDITION

    • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV84)
            1. it doesn't get any better than this!
            2. God's provision for your sin and my sin is the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross

A. GOD LOVES YOU AND HAS PROVIDED A CURE FOR YOUR CONDITION

            1. Jesus told a group of listeners in Matthew 9:10 ". . .'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.'"
            2. if you’re here this morning and you've never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you're sick
                1. in fact, you are terminally ill
                  • “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18, NIV84)
                2. but Jesus is the answer

B. JESUS HAS DIED IN YOUR PLACE FOR YOUR SINS

            1. the theological term is "substitutionary atonement"
                1. that's a fancy way of saying the Jesus died for you so that you don't have to spend eternity in hell
                  • “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,” (1 Peter 3:18, NIV84)
                2. the precious blood which flowed from our Lord's hands and feet is a blood which God accepts as payment in full for your sin
                3. through that blood we have forgiveness of sin
                  • ILLUS. One of the great hymns of our faith says, "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow."

C. JESUS ROSE FROM THE GRAVE THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE

            1. God goes beyond His initial offer of forgiveness
            2. he also promises eternal life with Him in heaven
              • "I am going to prepare a place for you. And . . . I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:2-3, NIV)

IV. JESUS TAUGHT THAT MEN MUST RESPOND PERSONALLY TO GOD'S INVITATION

            1. we believe that salvation is a personal faith decision
                1. it involves a volitional choice to have a relationship with Jesus Christ
                    1. it's a decision that no one can make for you
                    2. it's a salvation that rests upon an intensely personal experience with Jesus Christ and not on outward acts such as catechism, church membership or baptism
            2. how do you have this kind of personal experience with Christ?
                1. it's very simple

A. REALIZE THAT YOU'RE A SINNER AND THAT SIN LEADS TO DEATH

    • Rom. 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
    • Rom. 6:23 ". . . the wages of sin is death . . ."

B. KNOW THAT GOD OFFERS AN ALTERNATIVE TO SIN AND DEATH

    • Rom. 6:23 ". . . but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

C. ACCEPT GOD'S LOVE AND HIS PROVISION IN HIS SON

    • Rom. 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

D. DETERMINE THAT YOU WILL REPENT OF YOU SIN AND TURN TO GOD

    • Acts. 3:19 "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out . . ."/

E. PERSONALLY COMMIT TO CHRIST AND PUBLICLY CONFESS THAT JESUS IS SAVIOR AND LORD

    • Rom. 10:9-10 "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved, For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Jesus was a great teacher. Will you learn and believe and accept these truths today?

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