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What was the key paradigm that Jesus was challenging?
It was that the Pharisees thought / that they made themselves fit for the Kingdom of God / by keeping the Law of Moses.
We can see this attitude reflected in Jesusí parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Gather in Luke 18:9-14
"The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself.
God, I thank you that I am not like other men - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get".
Jesus was challenging one of Nicodemusí paradigms. Nicodemus, you canít earn salvation , it is a free gift of God.
Application # 2.
My second application point is that it is easy for us to get stuck in our ways, especially the longer we are in ministry.
We need to be open fresh insights that God will show us.
Nicodemus was an old timer - he must have thought he had his theology cracked. I believe that is why Jesus challenged his mind-set.
For God says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts and neither are your ways my ways" Is 55:8
Story: When I was in Switzerland / working for Sandoz, a Swiss multinational / one of the questions I was asked - when they put me on a promotion list - was: "Is there anywhere in the world, you would not want to go?".
I went home that evening and discussed it with Maddy and rather rashly said to her:
"Well, Iíll never go back to England.
But if I ever go back to England, Iíll never go to an Anglican church.
And if I ever go to an Anglican church, Iíll never become a vicar.
"Your ways are not my ways" says the Lord.
3. What effect did Jesusís words have on Nicodemus?
C. John 3:4-9
Nicodemus clearly was out of his depth. We see it in his response
"How can a man be born again"? he asked.
So Jesus explains: I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and of the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to Flesh and the Spirit gives birth to the Spirit.
As I was thinking about Jesusí reply, it struck me that we can do nothing to earn it. IT IS A FREE GIFT FROM GOD
We can no more influence our spiritual rebirth / than we can choose our parents or the family into which we are born.
Birth comes through the Spirit - all you can do is experience it.
Just as our physical birth is a gift from our parents, so eternal life is a gift from God.
What effect did this have on Nicodemus.
We see he is still no wiser; íHow can this be?í Nicodemus replied. (v.9)
And Jesus replies: " I tell you the Truth, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony."
In short, it requires a revelation from God. You recall in Matt 16:17, just after Peter has declared that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus says: Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah
FOR THIS WAS NOT REVEALED TO YOU BY MAN. BUT BY MY FATHER IN HEAVEN.
Although he could not comprehend these matters, despite being the outstanding teacher in Israel (v.10), I believe that Nicodemus went away thought about what Jesus said - and in time he became a believer. My reasons for thinking this are:
i) Firstly because the next time that Nicodemus appears in the Bible (Jn 19:39), he is with Joseph of Arimithea asking to bury Jesusí body.
ii) My second reason is more circumstantial. There is no account of any one else
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