Summary: Jesus, the king.
Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Message on Jesus the King; Date: 22 November 09
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[Jesus was controversial (John 2:13-25 – cleansing the temple with a whip and performing miracles) but] one man came to Jesus at night because he was hungry for more of what Jesus was doing. I read from the Bible – John 3:1-3: “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’ In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’”
This was a friendly visit. Nicodemus paid Jesus a compliment: “Jesus, we know that you have come from God and that God is with you.” Nice recognition. Yet – at the same time – Nicodemus made a big mistake – (frequently) our mistake. He thought that he knew who Jesus was and what he could expect from him. He called him “Rabbi” – which is what many other teachers were called. (Jesus seemed to look like one of them and act like one of them.) “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God … ” Therefore, (what happened was that) Nicodemus came to Jesus expecting to meet another rabbi and have an awesome conversation with another teacher. Only – Jesus was more than any rabbi and could give more than any teacher.
This is how he answered Nicodemus: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Jesus – with these words – immediately – cut to the chase – identified the root cause for misunderstanding his person. Nicodemus had drawn the wrong conclusion from what he experienced. He had observed Jesus in action but had not seen the truth. The sermons and the miracles led him to believe that Jesus was an extraordinary teacher (and that it would be good to spend more time with him) but he was wrong (or only partially right). He had not understood the true nature of Jesus’ preaching and the true nature of his miracles. There was more going on. Therefore, Jesus talked to him about “seeing the kingdom”. And this morning Jesus is also speaking to us: “See the kingdom” and you will recognize the king.
Now – we may think that we are a little more advanced than Nicodemus. We haven’t turned up here, saying: “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher … ” He is more than that. Yet, what are we saying? Many a time we demonstrate the same misplaced confidence as Nicodemus. We think that we know who Jesus is, saying – for instance: “Jesus, we know you are the Saviour.” “Jesus, we know that you died for the forgiveness of our sins.” But what does this mean and is it enough? This morning can Jesus rattle your self-assurance and make you see more? He said – listen again to his words – John 3:3-5: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again … [and he also said to Nicodemus – expanding on this] I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit … ”
In my Christian upbringing these were familiar verses. The phrase “born again” meant a lot. A “born again” Christian was someone that had turned from his sins to Jesus and now believed in him for eternal life. He was saved – “born again” – when he would die, he would go to heaven. Great – this was the goal of all church efforts: saving souls – but it was and it is not enough. We have lost something in the Western church, that is: the kingdom. Jesus did not say: “Be born again to have eternal life or be saved.” Jesus declared the maximum reality: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “See the kingdom” and – before anyone misunderstands and begins to stress – the kingdom does include your own personal salvation.
What is the kingdom of God? It was Jesus’ main message. From the beginning he talked about nothing else – Mark 1:14-15 – (this is the first Bible summary of his preaching): “ … Jesus went … proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’” Matthew 4:17: “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” He promised – Matthew 5:3-10: “Blessed are the poor in spirit … [and] blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He taught us to pray – Matthew 6:9-10: “Our Father in heaven … your kingdom come … ”