Summary: A sermon that looks at John 3 - 16 from the point of view of Nicodemus who had everything but had to be nonetheless born again

This morning as we have dedicated Harley Sheat to the Lord we have delighted in her birth but have looked forward to the time of her second birth and the fact that through that birth will be a gift of life that far exceeds the life that we celebrated here this morning.

As we move on in 2007 and into our ministry and God’s call for our lives this year I want to encourage you that God has a vision for our lives here together.

I am very keen for us to grasp once again the importance of our vision and the working out of our vision here in our own district in 2007.

Everything that we are planning and doing here in the church tracks back to the vision which is:-

Our vision is to be a caring church family who will do whatever we can to help people to become wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ.

But this morning I want to track back from the vision to what lies behind the vsion itself.

This morning my sermon title is:-

Amazing Grace or Why we would really want to be wholehearted followers of Christ.

One of the qualifications for helping people become wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ is that we do that best when we are wholehearted ourselves

2000 odd years ago a important man in Jerusalem crept around to where Jesus was and was privately seeking a deep spiritual truth from Jesus that would fill the hole in his spirit that all his life and religion had not been able to satisfy.

Nicodemus – Who can we compare him with today??

Well Nicodemus was someone who must have been wealthy – When jesus died :- JN 19:38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 4

Only a wealthy man could have afforded such an abundance of spices.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. In many ways the Pharisees were the best people in the whole country/ there were never more than 6000 of them, they were what was known as a chabarah or a brotherhood.. They did this by taking a pledge in front of three witnesses that they would spend all their lives observing every detail of the scribal law.

The law was the first 5 books of the old Testament they believed it was the perfect word of God.

The scribes worked out the regulations from the law and the Pharisees decdicated their lives to keeping the thousands and thousands of rules.

Nocdemus was not only wealthy and a Pharisee but we are also told that he was a ruler of the Jews. The word is arch^on The Sanhedrin to which he belonged was a court of sevent members and was the supreme court of the Jews.

Under the romans, of course it’s powers had been limited but was nonethe less a court with extensive powers particuarily in relation to religions matters in relation to every Jew in the world.

In addition to all of this it is thought that Nicodemus may well have been a member of a distinguished Jewish family.

Nicodemus was like much of our New Zealand society.

He was a man of position – power and wealth – who none the less was puzzled and seeking so he came to Jesus in the darkness of the night to seek light.

That he found it can not really be disputed as at the end of Jesus life when it was both dangerous and unpopular to be associated with him we find Nicodemus helping take care of his burial with dignity and compassion.

But stepping aside from our text for a moment can I ask you to look again at our church vision.

Our vision is to be a caring church family who will do whatever we can to help people to become wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ.

If we are going to help people become wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ then we can conclude that whatever it was that Nicodemus discovered in the middle of that night that led him to continue following Jesus, whatever that is, we too can benefit from clarifying and embracing it both for ourselves and those we plan to touch with christ’s love this year.

The first thing that is absolutely radical and that many people can not accept is that nothing else is of any use.

JN 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. "

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