Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?John 3:9-10
Nicodemus came to Jesus full of pride in his knowledge of the scriptures. He felt that he, along with his fellow Pharisees, deserved a rightful place in heaven because they understood the law better than others.
However, Jesus rebukes Nicodemus for his lack of scriptural understanding!
Jesus is not teaching any new concept. The theme of Israel’s demise and God’s merciful restoration can be found throughout the Old Testament. Nicodemus, as we have already seen, clearly did not understand the effects on man’s spiritual life when Adam transgressed in the Garden. And if Nicodemus does not understand depravity, why would he be looking for themes of restoration by mercy and grace?
It is no wonder that the Pharisees mocked at John preaching in the wilderness when he told them to repent. They felt they had no need of repentance!
While the concept of the new birth is not expressly shown in the Old Testament, the theme of washing and renewing is.
Notice how the language sounds remarkably like what Jesus tells Nicodemus!
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.Ezekiel 11:19; 36:25-26