The Temple and Nicodemus ~ John 2 and 3 {Testimony Opportunity}

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  • To list events of Jesus in the temple and His visit with Nicodemus
  • To put John 3:16 into context

Materials: candles (I used electric.); bowl of water {for my personal testimony}

Geography: Jerusalem

Background: After Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened up. The Holy Spirit took on the form of a dove and flew down to Jesus. God the Father spoke from heaven saying, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” The Spirit then led Jesus into the wilderness where He was tempted by Satan. He then began His ministry, found disciples for His inner circle, and started doing miracles.

Main Events of John 2 and 3:

{Have the candles lit and the lights off before the children enter the room.} The event we’re going to hear about today took place at night, but before that, I want to tell you about something Jesus did a few days earlier.

Jesus was in Jerusalem. It was time for the Passover celebration. Jerusalem would have been packed with people from the surrounding countries. Jesus went to the temple; and in the outer area He found tables and tables of money changers and people selling animals for sacrifices. Jesus found the materials to make a whip and He began to drive out the money changers, and the animals, from the temple. He also overturned the tables. Jesus told the people selling doves to “Take these things away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of business!”

Why would He be so upset? What was the purpose of the temple? {The temple was a place of worship. It is also possible that the business people were taking advantage of those who were visiting for Passover.}

The Jews were not happy with Jesus. “By what authority do you do these things?” they asked. Jesus responded with, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

What was Jesus talking about? {His death on the cross and resurrection.} What did the Jews think He meant? {The temple building.}

One night, a man named Nicodemus came to Jesus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, and a leader of the Sanhedrin. They had an interesting conversation. (John 3:2-21)

“Rabbi (Teacher), we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Isn’t it great when Jesus totally ignores the question and goes straight to the person’s heart issue? Nicodemus has been watching Jesus do miracles and drive the money changers out. He knew that Jesus was someone different. MAYBE he thought that Jesus might be the Messiah.

“How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus knew that Jesus did not literally mean he needed to be born from his mother again. But what Jesus was telling him was new. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he needed to experience a birth of his spirit. A sinful person cannot be born of the spirit on their own. A person must repent and be washed by the water of the Holy Spirit. If a person does not do this, then he may not enter the kingdom of God.

“How can these things be?”
“Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Wasn’t that a strange conversation? Were there some words that you recognized in those verses? {John 3:16} Yes! John3:16 comes from the conversation with Nicodemus. Here was a knowledgeable man of the scriptures. He had dedicated his entire life to learning and interpreting the words of God. He probably had books of the Old Testament memorized. But one of the things Jesus told Nicodemus was that people testify, or witness, or tell people about, what they know and experience; what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. And Jesus explained that if Nicodemus wasn’t willing to believe what he saw Jesus doing, then why would he believe Jesus if He told Him things of heaven? Nicodemus can’t see heaven, or experience it without being born of the spirit. And then Jesus told Nicodemus the most quoted Bible verse telling him exactly how to experience eternal life.

A person has to be born again. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to wash you clean, and as a result, you live differently. And once you do that, then you experience the kingdom of God.


 Life Application of the Story of Nicodemus:

{This is a great time to either share your testimony, or some other time when you did “sense” and experience God do something in you. Here’s mine.}

When I was a kid I was filled with Bible knowledge, much like Nicodemus. He knew a lot more than me, but for a girl growing up in church, I knew a lot. I knew most of the stories of the Bible. I would win all of the Bible drills. I could recite the books of the Bible. But that’s all it was. It was head knowledge. None of it had touched my heart, my soul. Then one night when I was in 7th grade, there were some people talking about Jesus at my church. And something was different. Something gripped me on the inside. {Bring out the bowl.} The man talked about how my heart was dirty and black with sin and that there was nothing I could do to wash the sin away. However, IF I believed that Jesus was real, that He was born, died on the cross, and came back to life three days later, THEN I would be born again. It’s like taking my heart and washing it with the water of the Spirit. My heart was changed. And I KNEW it!! I had experienced the saving power of God and I will never be the same again.

What Truth did you learn from this lesson?

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