Jesus Teaches the New Birth
I. Jesus Teaches the New Birth
Jesus received mixed reactions to His ministry. The Bible tells us that the common people heard Him gladly (Mark 12:37). He came preaching the gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18), but the “learned” people did not always receive Him (I Corinthians 1:26). Many among the chief rulers also believed on Jesus but would not confess Him for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. They loved the praise of people more than the praise of God (John 12:42–43).
1. Jesus and Nicodemus
“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 doest, 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” (John 3:1–3). Nicodemus did not come questioning; he came to Jesus with what was essentially a compliment. He knew that Jesus was from God because of the miracles that He did.
Jesus quickly brought the focus of the conversation to the most important matter in life: how can a person see God’s kingdom and enter into it?
a. You Must Be Born Again
Jesus said that the only way a person can see and enter this kingdom is to be born again. He used terminology that sounded strange to Nicodemus. Although he was a ruler of the Jews, he had never heard of being born again. He could only associate being born again with his natural birth. Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?” In response to Nicodemus’s question, Jesus replied, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
b. Water and Spirit
The new birth, or being born again, consists of two elements: water and Spirit. Water refers to baptism in water and the Spirit to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, which is promised to all who obey the Word of God.
2. The Promise to All Believers
Jesus went to Jerusalem to observe the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. There He made a dramatic and most significant statement. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)” (John 7:37–39). Let us observe the following facts about the statement Jesus made:
• The promise is to any person.
• The only qualifying factor is that a person must thirst.
• The person who would obtain this promise must come to Jesus.
• The person who would receive this promise must believe on Jesus.
• The rivers of living water that will flow out of the believer is the Spirit, the Holy Ghost.
• At that time, the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Jesus has now been glorified, and the Holy Ghost is given. From the Day of Pentecost even to this day, the promise has been for all who believe.
3. Fulfillment of Prophecy
Old Testament passages contain promises of a new covenant and the new birth of which Jesus spoke.
a. A New Covenant
Jeremiah wrote about a future new covenant between God and the houses of Israel and Judah. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt . . .but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the LORD , 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. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:31–34).
b. Outpouring of the Spirit
The prophet Joel foretold the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28–29). In his prophecy, he specified that age and gender would not be limiting factors for ministry, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” More importantly, the promise of the Spirit would be poured out on “all flesh.”
Jesus Teaches in Parables
II. Jesus Teaches in Parables
Jesus often taught in parables. A parable is an earthly story with a spiritual application, and it is used to teach one great truth. Through parables Jesus used a “known” to reveal an “unknown” to His disciples and presented spiritual meaning to all who heard. Jesus spoke many parables; we will study three.
1. The Parable of the Sower
The Parable of the Sower is found in Matthew 13:3–9, with the interpretation in verses 18–23. Parallel accounts of this parable are found in Mark 4:3–20 and Luke 8:5–15. The basic lessons of the parable are as follows:
• The seed that is sown is the Word of God.
• The wayside soil represents those who hear the Word but fail to understand it. The devil comes quickly to catch the Word away from them.
• The stony soil represents those who hear the Word and receive it joyfully for the moment. But when temptation comes, they fall away because they are not grounded (rooted) in the Word.
• The thorny ground represents those who hear the Word and begin to bear fruit. But they allow the cares and pleasures of life to grow in their life, which eventually choke out their concern for the Word of God.
• The good ground represents those who hear the Word, understand it, and obey it. This parable stresses the importance of the Word of God. God’s Word is the only thing that can cause a person to bear fruit, or be productive, in God’s kingdom. There is no substitute. A person must develop a love for God’s Word and put it first in his life (Psalm 1:2). His reception of and obedience to the Word of God determines the kind of soil he will be. A person can choose to be the kind of soil he wants to be.
2. The Pearl of Great Price
The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price is found in Matthew 13:45–46. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Although Jesus did not interpret this parable, many Bible students believe that it represents the search of humanity for the gospel. From that viewpoint, we may draw the following lessons.
• All of life is a search for the very best.
• The most valuable thing in the world is the gospel message—God’s plan of salvation.
• When truth is found, it is worth giving up anything and everything in order to obtain it. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” No matter what the cost, we should buy the truth. We cannot literally buy truth with money, but we must recognize it is far more valuable than any earthly possession. Often it is necessary to dispose of reconceived ideas, personal desires, and dreams in order to embrace truth. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24–25).
General Bramwell Booth told the following story. “I was once traveling by train with Cecil Rhodes. My father was in the next carriage. Rhodes and I were alone. Struck by his depression and gloom, and hopeful for him, because of his interest in our work, I said to him, ‘Mr. Rhodes, are you a happy man?’ He threw himself back in his seat, looked at me with that extraordinary stare of his, and exclaimed: ‘Happy? I happy? Good God, no!’ And then, when I spoke to him of the only rest for the human spirit, he said to me: ‘I would give all I possess to believe what that old man in the next carriage believes.’ I shall never forget the tragedy,” said Bramwell Booth, “the utter tragedy of his voice, as long as I live.” Yes, Cecil Rhodes had gathered many valuable pearls—fame, wealth, honor, power—but he had not found the Pearl of Great Price. Only when people have found Christ are they at rest, for nothing but Christ can satisfy. (Source: G. H. Clothier.)
3. The Talents
The parable that Jesus told about the talents (Matthew 25:14–30) concerns the use of what God gives us. The man who traveled to a far country represents the Lord. Before he left he distributed his money—five talents to one, two talents to another, and one talent to another. These servants used the money different ways. The one who had the most used his talents most. He invested, and his investment paid good dividends. Likewise the man with two talents. But the man who had only one talent was too fearful to take any risk and so did nothing. The man who did not use his talent was called wicked and slothful (Matthew 25:26). It is difficult to work in fear but when we are working for God we need never fear. Our sole concern should be to please Him. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment” (I John 4:18).
The Road To Calvary
III. The Road to Calvary
The last week of Christ’s life before His crucifixion saw many prophecies fulfilled and demonstrated the compassion of Jesus for both His friends and enemies.
1. The Triumphal Entry
Fulfilling Zechariah 9:9, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. This event is commonly called His triumphal entry. It is found in Matthew 21:1–17, with parallel accounts in Mark 11:1–11 and Luke 19:29–40. As Jesus and His disciples came near Jerusalem, He sent two of them to a nearby village with instructions to return with a donkey and a colt they would find. Jesus instructed them that if anyone said anything to them they were to respond, “The Lord hath need of them,” whereupon they would be allowed to take the animals. The disciples did so, placing clothes on the back of the animals and setting Jesus on them. A great crowd of people greeted him, spreading garments on the path. Others placed branches of trees on the ground for the animals to walk on. Multitudes cried, “Hosanna to the son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest!” As the procession came into Jerusalem, the cry went up, “Who is this?” “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee,” responded the multitude. It would be but a few days until the inhabitants of the same city who had cried, “Hosanna to the son of David,” would be screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
2. The Last Supper
The next event that occurred during the week before the Crucifixion is known as the Last Supper. Matthew 26:17–29 records this event, with parallel passages in Mark 14:12–26 and Luke 22:7–23. Every year, the Jews kept the Feast of the Passover in remembrance of their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. During the week before Jesus was crucified, at the Passover meal, Jesus instituted something new for the disciples. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26–28). Jesus revealed to His disciples that this meal would have a special meaning. It is called the Lord’s Supper, and it signifies that Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us (I Corinthians 5:7). Paul explained the meaning in I Corinthians 11:23–26. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (I Corinthians 11:26).
• The bread represents Christ’s body.
• The fruit of the vine symbolizes His blood.
• This ordinance is to be observed.
• This ordinance should continue until the Lord’s return.
Before Jesus instituted this supper, He said, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” The disciples were very sorrowful and began to ask, “Lord, is it I?” Jesus responded, “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.” Judas then asked, “Master, is it I?” Jesus replied, “Thou hast said.” Judas then left the room and went out to consummate his betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26:20–25).
Following the supper, Jesus and His disciples came to the Garden of Gethsemane. He told eight of them to remain behind while He went to pray. He then took Peter, James, and John with Him a little farther into the garden. He asked them to watch with Him. He was becoming very sorrowful and heavy at the prospect of His approaching betrayal and crucifixion. Jesus went about a stone’s throw from these three and fell on His face. He began to pray, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” When He returned to Peter, James, and John, He found them asleep. “What!” Jesus said to Peter. “Could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40–41).
Sometime later, after much prayer, He woke them with these fateful words: “Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:46). While Jesus was still speaking, Judas came with a great multitude armed with swords and clubs. Judas came to Jesus and said, “Hail, master.” Judas then kissed Him. This was the prearranged signal to identify Christ to the mob. Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” They then took Jesus away.
5. The Trial
Jesus’ trial was a mockery (Matthew 26:57–69). He was led to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and elders were gathered. Arrangements had been made for false witnesses to testify against Jesus so that He might be put to death. As far as the high priest was concerned, Jesus had sealed His fate. He tore his garment and said, “He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” He asked the others, “What think ye?” They agreed, “He is guilty of death.” They then spit in Jesus’ face, hit Him, and struck Him with the palms of their hands. They jeered, “Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” Following these tragic events, Jesus was led from Caiaphas to Pilate (John 18:28–40; 19:1–15). Pilate was the Roman governor over Judea, and he was responsible to carry out the death penalty on criminals. Pilate queried, “What accusation bring ye against this man?” After questioning Jesus, Pilate went out of the judgment hall and said to the Jews, “I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover. Will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” “Not this man,” they cried, “but Barabbas.” Barabbas was a robber, insurrectionist, and murderer (Mark 15:7). The crowd in their frenzy rejected the Son of God and chose a criminal.
6. Jesus Beaten
As a result of their request, Pilate had Jesus scourged. Little did these Jews know, nor did Pilate know, that their very actions fulfilled prophecies given by holy men of God many years previously. The prophet Isaiah said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The stripes that Jesus took at the hand of Pilate’s men paid the price for our healing. Many years later Peter said, “Who his own self bare our sins . . . by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). Total redemption, both from all sin and all sickness, is seen in Psalm 103:3: “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” The price Jesus paid was not a partial price, but a complete price for all. Healing of the sick is one of the signs that follow believers. Jesus said, “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17–18). The Bible gives instructions to pray for the healing of believers today: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (James 5:14–15). It is God’s will to heal the sick. We simply need to have faith in Jesus and the price that He paid, and obey the Word of God.
Christ Died For Us
IV. Christ Died for Us
The crucifixion of Jesus is the central event in the entire history of the human race. On the cross Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world. He who knew no sin became the sacrifice for our sins (Romans 5:8–10; II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:22).
1. Jesus Mocked by the Soldiers
After Jesus was scourged, the soldiers took Him into the common hall where a band of soldiers was gathered together. They stripped Jesus and placed a scarlet robe on His wounded, bleeding back. They then platted a crown of thorns and placed it upon His head, placed a reed in His right hand, bowed before our Lord, and mocked Him. They cried, “Hail, King of the Jews!” The soldiers then spit upon Him, took the reed from His hand, and beat Jesus upon the head. They replaced the scarlet robe with His own clothing and led Christ away to be crucified.
2. Simon and the Cross
As they made their way to Calvary, they found Simon, a man of Cyrene, and forced him to bear the cross. The procession arrived at Golgotha. There they offered Jesus vinegar mixed with gall to drink. After tasting it, Jesus would not drink it. The soldiers then crucified Jesus, placing His cross between those of two thieves. Over the cross of Jesus were the words: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Soldiers cast lots for the garment of Jesus.
3. Mocked on the Cross
As Jesus hung in agony on the cross, people passing by mocked Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” The chief priests, scribes, and elders joined in the jeering, saying, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.”
4. The Thief on the Cross
One of the criminals who was crucified next to Jesus railed against Him, saying, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” The other thief, however, rebuked his fellow sufferer saying, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” This man then said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Jesus answered, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
5. Forgiveness on the Cross
A statement of Jesus on the cross reveals His compassion even for those who crucified Him. He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
6. The Happenings after His Death
After Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. There was a great earthquake, and the rocks ripped apart. In a graveyard outside the city, many graves opened. A Roman centurion took note of these unusual occurrences and was smitten with fear. He said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Many women stood a great distance away, carefully observing all these things.
7. Jesus Is Buried
Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich man who was a secret disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate for permission to take away the body of Jesus. Pilate granted his request. Nicodemus, the same man who came to Jesus by night and was told of his need to be born again, helped Joseph. They wrapped Jesus in a clean linen cloth and placed Him in Joseph’s personal tomb, where no one had ever been buried. What looked like defeat was actually a great victory for the kingdom of God. Jesus had accomplished His purpose in coming into the world. He had taken the place of sinful humankind and had made it possible for them to escape the wages of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23).
V. Jesus Lives
God’s plan called for the Messiah to come forth out of the grave; death could not hold Him! God would not allow Him to see corruption. Jesus had predicted how long He would be in the tomb. “Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:38–40).
1. Soldiers Guarded His Grave
After Jesus’ burial, the chief priests and Pharisees came together to Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.”
Pilate responded, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can” (Matthew 27:63–65). The Jews left Pilate, went to the sepulchre, sealed it, and set a watch, or guard, over it.
2. Jesus Came Forth
Their efforts to keep Christ in the tomb were to no avail. The angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. The keepers of the tomb shook and became like dead men. Mary Magdalene, Mary, the wife of Cleophas and the mother of James, and Salome, along with others, made their way to the tomb. They wanted to anoint the body of Jesus with spices they had prepared. As they came they wondered, “Who will roll the stone away for us?” But when they arrived, they saw that the stone was rolled away from the door. Christ was risen! The tomb was empty!
3. Many Saw Him
Later, in recording the facts of the Resurrection, Paul stated that “he was buried, and that he rose again, the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (I Corinthians 15:4–8). Jesus appeared several times to His disciples during the forty days after His resurrection. He ate with them and gave them His last, important commands (Matthew 28:16–20; Mark 16:9–20; Luke 24:13–53; John 20:19–31; Acts 1:3).
The Great Commission
VI. The Great Commission
The Great Commission is recorded in each of the three Synoptic Gospels. (See Matthew 28:19–20; Mark 16:15–18; Luke 24:45–49; Acts 1:4–8.) Jesus commanded the disciples to preach repentance and remission of sins in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). They were to preach the gospel to everyone regardless of nationality or race (Mark 16:15).
1. The Elements of the Great Commission
c. Water Baptism
d. The Holy Ghost
f. Healing and Supernatural Signs
2. Jesus’ Ascension
Jesus led the disciples to a place on the Mount of Olives near Bethany. He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father and they would be baptized with the Holy Ghost in not many days. He then lifted up His hands, blessed them, and was carried up into Heaven in a cloud. As the disciples looked skyward two men stood by them in white apparel and asked them why they stood there gazing up into Heaven. The two men told the disciples that the same Jesus who was taken from them up into Heaven would return in like manner. The disciples left the Mount of Olives and returned to Jerusalem, their hearts filled with joy and eager expectation.