Summary: This sermon is disgned for seekers to understand grace and what it means in our everyday lives.
Just As I Am
April 15, 2001
A. [Making an Impression, Citation: The Wisconsin State Journal, reprinted in Parade]
The Wisconsin State Journal recently surveyed vice presidents and personnel directors of the nation’s largest corporations for their most unusual experiences interviewing prospective employees. Their stories included:
A job applicant who challenged the interviewer to arm wrestle.
A job candidate who said he had never finished high school because he had been kidnapped and kept in a closet in Mexico.
A balding candidate who excused himself, then returned wearing a full hairpiece.
A candidate who wore earphones to the interview and, when asked to remove them, explained that she could listen to the interviewer and the music at the same time.
A candidate who said she didn’t have time for lunch, then started to eat a hamburger and fries in the interviewer’s office.
An applicant who interrupted the questioning to phone her therapist for advice.
A candidate who dozed off during the interview.
A candidate who muttered, "Would it be a problem if I’m angry most of the time?"
These people sound pretty incompetent, don’t they?
1. Yet it is not a stretch to say this is the same sort of incompetence we all bring to God when we come to God with our list of "qualifications" to get into heaven.
2. I don’t get to go to heaven because I never killed anyone.
3. I don’t get to go to heaven because I’m not a child molester.
4. I don’t get to go to heaven because I’m a pretty good person.
5. I don’t get to go to heaven because I got baptized.
6. I don’t get to go to heaven because I’m a preacher.
7. Unfortunately I’m just as incompetent as those job candidates—and so are you.
B. So how do we get to go to heaven?
1. Fortunately there’s a better way and it lies deep in the meaning of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection which we celebrate this weekend.
2. So on this resurrection Sunday, I want to look at a story recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel of John.
3. It is an unusual encounter that Christ had with a man by the name of Nicodemus.
4. Nicodemus was a Hebrew, but I like to think of him as an Irish man: "Nick O’Demus."
5. So if you have a Bible, let’s look at the encounter that Nick had with Jesus…
I. Nick came to Christ under the cover of darkness.
John 3:2, He came to Jesus at night
A. Nick was a Pharisee.
1. Now the Pharisees believed that since they were such good people, they were entitled to go to heaven.
2. And unfortunately that’s what a lot of people think today.
3. The Bible tells us that the Pharisees were the ruling council.
4. The Jewish religion was the most predominate religion.
5. So the Pharisees were the ruling body of the predominant religion of the day.
6. And while the Romans were in charge of the government, the Romans had delegated governmental oversight of matters that had to do with their religion to the Pharisees.
7. So the Pharisees were not only the ruling body of religion, but they also had ties to the government with full law enforcement authority as well.
8. So how would you like that?
9. How would you like to live in a society that the predominant religion had the governmental authority to force people to obey the teachings of their religion.
10. Thankfully, that is not true today in America!
B. But, imagine how it would be for you to be a member of that council.
1. You are a member of the ruling council of your religion.
2. You can imagine that you would have some standards that you would have to live up to in order to maintain your position.
3. You can imagine that you would have some beliefs that you had to have in order to maintain your position.
4. You can imagine that there would be a little notoriety in society attached to your position.
5. You can imagine that their would quite a bit of a power-rush attached to your position.
6. If you can imagine a politician with the trappings of religion attached to them, you can get a picture of what it was like to be a Pharisee.
7. They enjoyed people noticing them.
8. They enjoyed people seeing how "holy" they were.
9. They enjoyed people watching them do their good deeds.
10. They enjoyed swaying power over people to force them to live the way they wanted them to live.
C. But there is one other piece of information that I need to tell you about the Pharisees…
1. They had a big problem with Jesus!