Summary: A non threatening invitation to salvation.
Paonia United Methodist Church
February 20, 2004
This morning we continue along our Lenten journey
As we return to an old friend.
Lent, if you remember, is a season set aside to contemplate
And even mourn the distance between God and mankind.
And the purpose of this is to take an account of those obstacles in our life that separate
Us from God and from one another.
Well, as I already said, that journey leads us back to an old friend
In a discourse I like to refer to as Nick at Night.
Who was this guy?
And what was this meeting between Nick and Jesus
I am glad you asked, because that is where we are going this morning.
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.”
“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “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. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
This is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I have to ask you,
How many of you have heard this discourse before?
This discourse comes up just about every year during lent,
And it comes up for obvious reasons.
The season is set aside for us to meditate on the areas
Of our life that keeps us separated from God and one another,
And this discourse is certainly about an obstacle in
Nicks life as well as our own.
And, we what follows between Nick and Jesus is an interesting discourse
That has led to the most famous of all NT quotes, John 3:16.
Why is it so famous?
Well, we will come back to that.
Guess you’ll just have to keep listening.
So, let’s start with the setting.
What time is it?
This is important here.
It is the first bit of foreshadowing, kind of like a good
Movie when the music starts getting louder letting
You know to pay attention here…
This is important.
What time is it?
Listen to how Scripture phrases it…
He (Nick) came to Jesus by night.
Think that is just in there by accident?
That is a clue for us.
Nick is sneaky.
He sneaking around at night so as not to be detected.
She doesn’t want to be seen.
This is a top secret mission.
Well, who is he hiding from and why?
Again, it is no accident that John tells us who he is.
Nick is a Pharisee…
These are the religious elite who ended up seeing to it that
Jesus was killed.
Not real nice folks
And Nick isn’t just a Pharisee…
He is one of THE Pharisees.
Jesus tells us that later when he calls him
A teacher of Israel.
This guy is way up the food chain.
And here he is sneaking around at night
Looking for answers.
And, ironically, the answer man is in the dark.
Like the imagery here?