Summary: This sermon explores the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.
HAVE YOU GOT JESUS?
Text: John 3:1-17
I remember that as a youth our United Methodist Youth Fellowship group once had something like a talent show. We put on something of a skit. The skit went like this. There was a man who was sitting on a park bench. His friend comes to the park and sees him there. The first man began to tell his friend that he had something wonderful happen in his life. His friend was curious and wanted to know what it was. I just got a hearing aid that has improved my ability to hear. His friend said, “Really, what kind is it?” The first man looked at his watch and told his friend, “It’s about 3 o’clock”. The point was that the first man was able to hear better but he still was having trouble understanding.
Sometimes, you and I are like that. Nicodemus was like that when Jesus was talking to him about being born again. He heard but he was having trouble understanding. Nicodemus knew that there was something special about Jesus. Nicodemus was talking about what he knew and also revealing something about what he wanted to know. Jesus knew that Nicodemus was spiritually hungry. That is why Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of heaven unless he is born again” (John 3: 3 NIV).
Nicodemus was curious as to the connection that Jesus had with God. He thought that it was a special connection. It was if Nicodemus were asking, “Hey, Jesus what is your secret? Nobody could do the things that you do unless “God were with him” (John 3:2). If you to ask a magician the secrets of his magic, he would not tell you. Jesus is not a magician. Jesus is God’s only begotten Son. Jesus explains His connection with God as God’s only begotten Son after He explains to Nicodemus what we have to do to have God in our lives which comes through being baptized. Jesus explains this idea by telling Nicodemus that in order to enter God’s kingdom, one must be born again, born from above. Jesus is talking about being anew into God’s life giving Spirit.
Another thing that explains Nicodemus’ curiosity was how he came to Jesus. He came to Jesus at night. There are various opinions as to why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. Some say that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night because he wanted to have a one on one conversation with Jesus. After all, Jesus was usually surrounded by crowds of people during the day. And speaking to Jesus in the daytime would mean that he might experience the interruptions of a crowd. Others say that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night because he was possibly too shy to be seen publicly, because he was a wealthy Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. Still, there are others who interpret the fact that Nicodemus came at night as symbolic of the fact that he was living in darkness, meaning that he was ignorant of God’s light that shines in the darkness through Jesus.
It is obvious that Nicodemus was a man who was spiritually hungry. Nicodemus was a religious man. All of the Pharisees were religious people. Yet, the religion that he had was not satisfying. God made us in such a way that we will not find rest until we find it in Him as St. Augustine once said. Yes, Nicodemus was religious but he also had a part of him that was restless. He was restless because spiritually he was hungry. Isn’t that why he was talking with Jesus in the first place? He spoke as if he were representing the curiosity of others as well as himself. It seems that his desire to know how to be fed was perhaps more for himself than for the others.
Notice how Jesus addresses Nicodemus’ misunderstanding. Jesus reminds Nicodemus that he is a teacher and then causes him to question his teaching ability. Jesus was pointing out that Nicodemus taught as if he was a blind man leading the blind. Jesus was telling him between the lines that he needed faith. When we have faith, we also have a feeling of assurance.
A little boy attended a certain Sunday school and church. His mother was not a Christian. She had a horror of death and would not go to church for fear that she would hear something about dying. On Easter Sunday the little boy came running home with a message for her. He came joyfully into the room and cried out, “Mother, you need not be afraid to die. Jesus went through the grave and left a light behind.” She came to church with him, learned the great lesson and soon became a happy Christian. (W. Herschel Ford. Simple Sermons On Salvation And Service. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955, pp. 90-91). Being a Christian means that we will only die once. Those who are not Christian are risking dying twice.