Sunday March 17 the 2nd Sunday of Lent

Scriptures:Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

John 3:1-7 Nicodemus Visits Jesus

3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You] must be born from above.’

 

“Born Again”

Lets us take a few moments and ponder this man Nicodemus.  As a leader among the Jews, Nicodemus was supposed to have a bead on his faith and his position in the world.  He was a Pharisee, which meant he was supposed to be an expert on the Law.  He was a member of the Sanhedrin court, the highest body among the Jewish religion whose seventy-one members included great scribes, legal experts, and religious figures; including the High Priest himself, who served as president.  Most of its members were Sadducees, making Nicodemus even more special as one of the few Pharisees chosen to serve.  He would have also been very busy with all of his duties and responsibilities.  All of this might also have led to him being at least a little on the prideful side.

We are not told what made this great and learned man was compelled to trust in Jesus enough to seek out His counsel.  This would have been very unusual behavior for anyone in his position.  However, something was bothering Him that only Jesus could help with.  Whatever it was, it led Nicodemus to risk embarrassment by going and talking to this man who was nor prominent among either sect of Judaism nor very popular with the establishment by this point.  So what led him to go?

We notice that he went under the cover of darkness.  Perhaps this was because he was a prominent man and did not want to be seen consorting with those lower than him.  Perhaps he was a busy man by day and had to do such business at night.  Perhaps his pride would not let him be seen asking advice from such a man as this.  We are not told why he chose the time; but perhaps he, like many of us when troubled with a deep issue, could not face another sleepless night without answers.

What we do know is what was troubling him.  He seemed to need to know how to attain the salvation which Jesus spoke so highly of.  He must have realized he was not right with God and needed something deeper.  In our vernacular, Nicodemus was “under conviction” because he realized he was “lost”.  If this is truly the case, he needed to know how to enter into right relationship with God. 

Jesus of course had the answer, Nicodemus had to be “born from above” and “born of water and Spirit”, what we call being “born again” and baptized.  The great blessing for Nicodemus was that he lived as a contemporary of Jesus and seemingly knew where he was in the city. Many of us know from experience that all are, like Nicodemus, in need of the salvation offered by and thru Jesus the Christ.  Though we cannot simply go across town and meet with Jesus at the local coffee shop or His local apartment.  We must contact Jesus in another way.   Though we might see this as a weakness; it perhaps is far better than the way Nicodemus had to do it.

When we find/found ourselves lost and under conviction, we do/did not have to go find one man in a specific place to get that which we need(ed).  In fact, we do/did not even have to go to church; though many do.  All we had/have to do is hit our knees and make an altar where we are at; whether that altar is our bedside, car dash, tree stump, etc.  It is not the location which makes the experience happen; it is our humility and God’s loving grace.   We are born again when we answer the call of Jesus in the positive way when He passes by and says to us, “come follow me.” 

Nicodemus was seeking an answer to a question he had never heard asked.  He wanted to know what someone had to do to see the Kingdom of God.  Jesus told him what he really was asking was how to inherit the Kingdom.  In other words, Jesus knew what Nicodemus really wanted to know but was unsure of how to ask was, “How does one become a true child of God, adopted into the family of God, and co-heir with the Son of God?” 

Jesus’ answer took Nicodemus aback a little.  His learned and legalistic mind could not understand the answer at first, but would some understand and become one of Jesus’ greatest disciples.  It was he who would later go with Joseph of Arimethea and request the body of Jesus so He could have a proper burial before the Sabbath.  

Nicodemus went out in the dark that night to figure out who this Jesus was.  He returned that night not only knowing Jesus, but knowing his true self.  No more was his life defined by his education, his position, or his pride.  It was no longer defined by WHO he was.  It was now defined by WHOSE he was; for he knew what it meant to be “born again.”

Pastor Mark

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