Summary: God created us to be in a relationship with Him. How do we improve that relationship?
Opening Remarks and Introduction
For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at some difficult questions that many people ask about God. This weekend, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day which is based on one of the most lasting relationships we’ll ever have. So, it’s only fitting that tonight we continue the sermon series with the question “How do I relate to God.” This is an important question that hinges on our understanding of who we are, and who God is.
Our lesson tonight looked at a story about Nicodemus as he tried to figure out who Jesus was and the message He came to deliver. Tonight, we’re going to take a closer look at that conversation and dig deeper into how God intended our relationship to be with Him.
To do that, we’re going to look at:
- God’s Relationship with Creation
- Nicodemus’ Search for Jesus
- Building our Relationship with God
1. Man as God’s Special Creation
Every story has a beginning, and this one is no different. But, it starts much earlier than Nicodemus’ conversation. In the beginning, God created the heavens, the earth, the fish, animals and birds. Then on the sixth day, He created man in a very special act of creation. Man was the ultimate purpose of creation. He was the Crown Jewel of everything that God had created. God took the dust from the ground, formed a body, and breathed a living soul into this lifeless body. And man became a living being.
Adam was the first man and he was created perfect, in the image of God, without any sin. God spent time with Adam, gave him the task to name all of the animals, and put him in charge of the earth. God was a sort of partner with man as He talked with Adam and brought each of the animals to have man name them. This simple task showed a connection with this special creation.
Man was pure and innocent, but that didn’t last. Deceived by the serpent, Eve sinned first, followed by Adam. They ate the forbidden fruit, trying to make themselves like God.
Man was still God’s creation, but no longer worthy to be in his presence. No longer pure and innocent. God drove the couple out from the Garden of Eden, and placed cherubim and a flaming sword to keep them out.
With that first sin, creation fell and was condemned to be separated from God. His nature demanded justice. But He also had compassion on His creation. So, God made a promise to restore the relationship between Creator and creation, and that price required a savior to redeem the world.
2. Nicodemus seeking Jesus
Nicodemus didn’t quite understand the world this way. He was a member of the Pharisees who were conservative Jewish teachers who valued their obedience of the law. But, Nicodemus was also a member of the Jewish ruling class of 70 rabbis, known as the Sanhedren, who were there to decide on religious matters.
As such, Nicodemus was called a “Teacher of Israel” and was well versed in the scriptures to include understanding that a messiah was coming and knowing about the prophets, such as Elijah, who had performed miracles.
Nicodemus recognized that only someone who was from God could perform the signs and wonders that Jesus doing. Nicodemus wasn’t a believer. At least not yet. But, He had questions and wanted to know more.
Nicodemus wants to understand the message that Jesus is delivering to the Jewish people. He even addresses Jesus with the respectful title of Rabbi. Jesus answers Nicodemus by saying:
“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, ESV)
This little message is quite confusing to Nicodemus because he only considers actual, physical birth. He recognizes the Jewish birthright that comes through Abraham’s line. A spiritual conversion isn’t something he thinks about. The people that he spent a lot of his time with wouldn’t have been much help either. Much of his Pharisee culture was concerned about outward appearances. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites and
“whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27, ESV)
If you’re surrounded by those who are only pure on the outside, appearances may be all you can see. Where the Pharisees were concerned about passing down spoken laws from one generation to the next, and finding ways to look clean and upright, God was concerned about the inward hearts of His creation with pure motives, not just pure appearances. That conversion from outward looks to inward attitudes requires a spiritual re-birth.
Birth is the beginning of a new life and one that Jesus was trying to communicate.
Being born is moving from living inside mom where its warm, safe and care-free, into something different. Although the child may not know it yet, the delivery begins a life that is filled with more joy, more experiences, and establishes a more full relationship with parents and the world around.