Summary: Where do you find those things that change your life? Are we willing to hear them from the most likely places? If so then we need to listen to the Lord Jesus because he meets us in the very midst of our deepest needs.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Scott Ginsburg but he is known for something very strange. As of today he has worn a "Hello my name is" tag for 3140 days. On one occasion he had given a speech to an employee group in South Dakota and told how he started wearing the name tag. "On that day, I exited an on-campus seminar and noticed everyone throwing their name tags away. So, I decided to leave mine on, just as an experiment. And for ONE day, the response was so overwhelming positive, that I decided to leave my name tag on permanently!"
He made a career out of wearing a name tag and working with businesses across the country. Following the training session in South Dakota a young guy approached Scott and chuckled, “Dude, isn’t it crazy to think that your entire career came from something you saw in a trashcan?”
Scott writes: "I Never really thought of it like that. Which is kind of funny.
I guess some people look into a trashcan and see trash. While other people look into a trashcan and see opportunity. As he recounts this in his blog Scott asks his readers "What about you? When you look at the world...
Do you see garbage? Or do you see gold?
Do you see waste? Or do you see wealth?
Do you see junk? Or do you see joy?"
Then he summarizes it by telling his readers, "The choice is yours. The attitude is yours. After all, choice and attitude are about the only things in this world you can really control.
I can agree with him up to a point but I believe the Bible teaches us that the ability to see the gold, wealth, joy or value in what the world has called junk ultimately comes from the work of the Holy Spirit that makes us alive through Jesus Christ.
John’s passage shows us a man who never asks a question of Jesus yet is pulled into a life-altering conversation. Romans 8 tells us that this Spirit given live obligates us to live as a follower of Jesus and ultimately leads us to the relationship of being a legally recognized recipient of the same glory that Jesus received from God.
Nicodemus doesn’t get beyond stating the obvious to Jesus, "God sent you to teach us". (v.2 NLT) And Jesus, who has been shown to know what’s going on inside of our minds already, knows the pressing need for this spiritual leader of God’s people. The need for him and for everyone is the need for a "do-over" a "new life", a "fresh start". And Jesus’ solution and he voices it to Nicodemus is terms of being "born again." It is a term Nicodemus would know. Being "born again" was understood in first century Judaism in a number of ways. It could include those who converted to Judaism as well as those who practiced ritual immersion and the repentance on the "Day of Atonement." for the person who converted Rabbis used the term "’beriah ḥadashah’ (a new creature)."
Nicodemus isn’t confused by Jesus’ statement. He is mystified that Jesus thinks he, Nicodemus, needed such a birth. I’ve already been born again, and again and again. How it is that you’re telling me I still need, at my age.
Jesus’ point is the Holy Spirit, and the birth He brings is the only rebirth that will actually do anything. You can almost imagine Jesus telling him, "Oh sure, you’re a religious leader, Rabbi and a good Jewish boy but you’ve missed it all you’ve done merely foreshadows God’s sending me and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit offers you and others a new life and a chance to share in God’s glory.
Romans 8:12 is God’s outcome for the fact that the Holy Spirit lives in us. Verse 11 says, "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you." Because we have a resource unlike anything we can imagine we can be free from the sinful slavery which we’ve suffered under for so long. "For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (vv 13-14)
Passages like this are pretty easy to understand because the structure is so clear. Two very simple if/then statements. If we live by our own power, agenda, values and the wants then we die. BUT, if the Holy Spirit is allowed to kill off our deeds that flow from our sinful nature then we live and are called children of God.