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17. The Conversation with Nicodemus.

Among the people struck by the miracles of Jesus Christ and believing in Him, was a Pharisee Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night unknown to all, so that the other Pharisees and rulers of the Jews, who disliked Jesus Christ, would not find out about this.

Nicodemus wanted to find out if Jesus Christ really was the expected Saviour of the world, and whom He would bring into His Kingdom, that is, what a man must do to enter His Kingdom. He said to the Saviour, "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."

The Saviour speaking with Nicodemus said, "Verily, I say unto Thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Nicodemus was very astonished to think a man could be born again. But the Saviour spoke to him not about the usual physical birth but about spiritual birth, that is, that a man must be completely changed in soul, perfectly good and merciful, and that such a change in a man may be accomplished only by the power of God.

The Saviour said to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born of water (by Baptism) and of the Spirit (Who descends upon a man during Baptism), he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." The Lord explained to Nicodemus that man born only of earthly parents remains sinful, meaning, and unworthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. Having been born of the Holy Spirit, a man becomes cleansed from sin, holy. How this change in the soul of a man is accomplished ¾ this is work of God and is not understood by people.

Therefore, the Saviour said to Nicodemus that He came to earth to suffer and to die for people, not to a royal throne does He come but to a cross. As Moses raised a serpent in the wilderness (that is, suspended on a pole a bronze serpent to save from death the Jews who had been bitten by venomous snakes); thus, the Son of Man must be suspended (that is, thus, Christ, the Son of Man, must be hung on a wooden cross), so that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. God so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son (through suffering and death) for the salvation of people and sent Him into the world not to judge people but to save them.

Nicodemus from this time became a secret disciple of Jesus Christ.

Note: See the Gospel of John 3:1-21.

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