Summary: A look at the promise of Jesus. Today, through faith we have a new life with Him. At the Resurrection, we will have a new body.
GOD HAS CALLED YOU INTO NEW LIFE
Stephen H. Becker, M.Div., ULLM
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church—Elk Grove
January 20th, 2007—2nd Sunday after Epiphany
As Christians, how often have you heard people refer to us—or maybe even we ourselves call ourselves—as “born again.” A great dialogue we find in John’s Gospel is that of the Pharisee Nicodemus. Jesus tells this guy that unless he is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus’ reply is great because it clearly shows that he doesn’t get what Jesus is saying; Nicodemus answers, “How can a man be born again when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into the womb to be born!” But that’s not the birth that Jesus is talking about—in fact, our first, physical birth was into a sinful world where we are all destined to continue to sin and sin. No, Jesus is talking about being born a second time. Being born again. And so that’s what I want to talk about today as we look at Paul’s teachings to the believers at Corinth. My friends, God has called us Christians into a new life. But does this mean all of sudden, all of our troubles are over? I mean, when you accept Jesus, does that suddenly mean that you will never get the flu again, that you’ll never break a leg again, that you won’t get into arguments with other people? Is it suddenly guaranteed that you’ll never get cancer? Or if you do, that it’s going to be cured by a miracle? See friends, it’s like Jesus says, “flesh gives birth to flesh,” meaning our flesh will eventually one day die, but then Jesus says, “the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” That’s the second birth Jesus is talking about! And it’s the Spirit that gives us an amazing power to know that one day, we will have an everlasting body, free of hurt and pain, just as Jesus showed us at His resurrection. “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Let’s open with prayer…
Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth was a letter written about 2,000 years ago. Of course, this makes the letter sound ancient, but this letter—or Epistle—is one that still is so upbeat and full of the Good News of Jesus Christ—the Gospel of Jesus Christ—that it is amazingly useful to you and me as Christians today. See in this letter, Paul knows who we all are: we are sinners, we live in a sinful world, but yet as Christians, we are like fish out of water—we want to cling to the Good News of Jesus Christ while constantly being surrounded by un-Christian things and ungodly people. We want to live as Jesus showed us, but there is temptation and sin ready to pounce on us, all the time. So here in this letter, Paul is re-affirming to us believers the Good News of Jesus Christ. He is saying that Jesus showed His Glory to many people. Jesus led many people to saving faith through Who Christ is and what Christ has done for each believer—and this isn’t just people 2,000 years ago, but it includes every believer alive today. And what’s Jesus’ goal in all this? Why did Jesus bring Grace and Peace—gladness and healing to His people? To strengthen their faith and grow their faith closer to God, all the while telling them that they are secure in their salvation through Him.
You know we might think it was easier for those people who witnessed the many wonderful miracles of Jesus or even those who maybe never saw Jesus, but lived in that same time, to accept what Paul is saying here. But we live in a crazy, fast-paced, multi-media world—the 21st century “rat race” as it were, a world where it’s sometimes is easy to dismiss or forget Jesus’ miracles and wonders from so many years ago. You know if I’ve recently been diagnosed with a disease that means that I’ll probably have to have surgery, like maybe having a leg removed or getting chemotherapy and feeling violently ill for month after month, it can get pretty hard to remember that Paul said to us “you have been enriched in every way.” At that moment, Jesus’ miracles really seem 2,000 years away. You know, as a minister of the Gospel, this is a particularly hard challenge for me. And you know, as Christians, especially as Christians who want to witness to others about the Good News of Jesus Christ, we all have that exact same challenge. We want to share the Good News of Jesus with others, but how do we overcome the huge barrier of this sinful, painful, wicked world? It’s hard to teach the Gospel to someone who is suffering, first-hand, the pain and difficulty of this fallen world.