Summary: A challenge contrasting the new life in Christ with the religious life that satisfy the most of mankind.
A NEW BEGINNING
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter 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 marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’
“Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.’
”‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
You have undoubtedly at some point in life found yourself wishing you could begin again. Perhaps you became disappointed in your career, realising that you had not accomplished all that you would have hoped to accomplish. Perhaps you just had a heated argument with your spouse and in a fit of self-pity you groused to yourself about life would have been different if someone else had shared your life. Likely, you were disappointed and found yourself wishing you could start over in life.
We age, and aspirations that once glowed brightly fade into distant memories. Training and careers that at one time loomed large on our horizon fade into a past marked with multiplied regrets. It is somewhat amazing to note that wishing to begin again is not restricted to those who have attained advanced age. Youth are perhaps as prone to wish for another chance, a new beginning, as are their elders.
Life is a flowing stream and the moments go by quickly, never to be repeated. Life is defined by opportunities, many of which we create ourselves. Whether the opportunities are seized or missed is dependent upon our decisions at the time of opportunity. Seldom do we have a realistic expectation of beginning again. However, I am convinced that we can begin again. We can have a second chance. Especially can we have a second chance at life that will fulfil our inmost, often unspoken, desires.
Life is to be lived boldly; we are created with an adventuresome spirit that longs to see what lies over the next mountain, always reaching for the next great challenge. It is only as we stifle that spirit of infectious curiosity and desire to find what lies beyond the next horizon that we become senescent and curiosity grows quiescent, dead at twenty-five and buried at eighty-five. There lies within each individual a “God-shaped” void that can be filled only through intimate knowledge of the True and Living God. Those who fill that void are equipped to live adventurously, exuberantly—living confidently and energetically, living a life that the Master described as “abundant” [see JOHN 10:10].
The message of life delivered through the Word of God has been entrusted to us as Christian so that we can quench the spiritual thirst of each person willing to receive the message we bear. A church of the Living God should be marked with a spirit of adventure as the congregation advances Christ’s Great Kingdom.
Jesus spoke of this life of adventure and joy on one occasion when He was approached by a Jewish leader. That interview Nicodemus sought set the stage for the transformation of his life, and his exchange with the Master became the setting for what is undoubtedly the best known of all Bible verses. Join me in a study of the account that the Evangelist John provides in the third chapter of the Gospel bearing his name.