Summary: This sermon is designed to review the core concepts of Original sin, Justification, New Birth, and Holiness in such a was as to draw in new converts and to draw believers closer to Christ on the 4th Sunday in Lent, year B.
John is one of simplest books of the Bible; I understand that the Billy Graham Association encourages new Christians who know little about our faith to read it first. On the other hand, John is one of the deepest books of the Bible and it challenges our best theological minds. For example, today’s lesson tells us about a man who asked Jesus a question one night. This simple fact, however, is also symbolic of the man’s spiritual life—in the darkness of his mind he couldn’t see the truth. What’s more, the night represents the need that of all humanity has for the light that Christ brings. Let the Holy Spirit guide us to hear both the obvious meaning and the deeper symbolic meaning in these verses.
Scripture: John 3:1-21 NKJV
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 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?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
This is the Word of God for the people of God.
[Topic: Original Sin; with reference to v. 18 (b) … he who does not believe is condemned already]
In v. 18 we read, “…he who does not believe is condemned already.” One Bible scholar has used a couple of “Charlie Brown” stories to help us understand our sinful nature.
Lucy once said to Charlie Brown, "Discouraged again, eh, Charlie Brown?" "You know what your whole trouble is? The whole trouble with you is that you’re you!"
Charlie asks, "Well, what in the world can I do about that?"
Lucy answers, "I don’t pretend to be able to give advice...I merely point out the trouble!"
Later, Lucy said, "You know what the whole trouble with you is, Charlie Brown?"
Charlie answers, "No, and I don’t want to know! Leave me alone!" He walks away.
Lucy shouts after him, "The whole trouble with you is you won’t listen to what the whole trouble with you is!"
The solution begins with listening. If "we" are the problem, "we" can’t be the solution. The solution has to come from outside us.