Summary: Finding hope in a hopless world.
Unfortunately I have not been able to get inside many of your homes up to this point in my ministry here. I sat looking at the directory for almost an hour thinking and praying over each one of you within it. I then had to ask myself what you were struggling with and finally I thought of it: hope. Some of you struggle with rebellious children and have a hard time coping with the criticism. Some of you are struggling to find your way in life whether it is from your youth in finding career options or just dealing with school or whether you are older and trying to find the purpose God has for you in your old age. Some of you are struggling to make ends meet and when the money gets tight so does the tension of your relationships. Some of you are struggling with a decision that will change you for the rest of your life and maybe even eternity. Some of you are struggling with whether you are worth anything or not.
Someone once said, “There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.” I read about a painting that helped remind me of this truth we often miss. The painting depicted “an old burned-out mountain shack. All that remained was the chimney...the charred debris of what had been that family’s sole possession. In front of this destroyed home stood an old grandfather-looking man dressed only in his underclothes with a small boy clutching a pair of patched overalls. It was evident that the child was crying. Beneath the picture were the words which the artist felt the old man was speaking to the boy. They were simple words, yet they presented a profound theology and philosophy of life. Those words were, "Hush child, God ain’t dead!" No matter how hard or difficult the problem you are facing right now in your life; God lives in heaven watching over you and caring for you. This encourages me to have a little more faith in and hope for God.
If a bit of hope would do you a world of good, then today might be your day to tune in to the message found in John chapter 3. I know that everyone seems to know John 3:16 but today we will not be focusing directly on that verse. There is more to chapter 3 than just verse 16 and much more to why the story is included in the Bible. Today we will learn from the conversation of Nicodemus and Jesus about hope: where it is found, how to reach it; and what it will take to do so. Jesus tries to show Nicodemus the true hope for the Jews and for us as well. Look at how he comes to Jesus. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night…” Nicodemus showed up at Jesus’ door step in the middle of the night. Now why would anyone want to meet in the middle of the night? So they don’t get caught of course. So a man of the Pharisees, a leading sect of Jews, and a ruler as well came to see Jesus. A group of seventy men ruled the Jews and were called the “Sanhedrin.” So of the elite parts of the Jewish people, this man was in the elite of the elite. Nicodemus is going to learn that Hope sits in the light of heaven. Follow along and maybe you too will find the hope you are looking for.
Know the Man – 3:2
“This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him. “Rabbi we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.””
This ruler and very elite leader of the Jews came bearing some very remarkable comments to Jesus. By calling Him rabbi, or teacher, Nicodemus was granting Jesus the type of respect and dignity he would give to one of his own fellow rulers. This was incredible because Jesus was not of a “certain” family but of a poor family who would have had little in the way of education. This was also significant in that by granting Jesus such a title, he was honoring him in a way that no other ruling Pharisee had. Nicodemus even recognized that God had sent Jesus and for good reason; Jesus performed miracles well beyond the tricks of magicians. No magician could heal leprosy. Nicodemus had quite a bit of information about Jesus correct. Jesus truly was a teacher sent from God. Jesus himself proclaims that he came to fulfill the Law of the Old Testament and teach what God truly meant by even the 10 commandments. Nicodemus is not totally in the dark but he has missed one key trait of Jesus. Even after seeing all that Jesus had done and risking his place in the Sanhedrin by coming to see Jesus, Nicodemus still didn’t see Jesus for who he really is: God incarnate. The Son of God was standing on earth right in front of him and he couldn’t see it. He didn’t know the man from whom hope would come.