Summary: A special message during our Sunday in the Park, talks about starting over with salvation.
Note: My main resource is from Max Lucado's book 3:16. Well worth the read.
Title: Born Again
Theme: The importance of being able to start over.
Text: John 3
Offering: Deuteronomy 16:17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Jo h n 3:1 – 3,16
THE MOST FAMOUS CONVERSATION IN THE BIBLE
He’s waiting for the shadows. Darkness will afford the cover he covets. So he waits for the safety of nightfall. He sits near the second-floor window of his house, sipping olive-leaf tea, watching the sunset, biding his time. Jerusalem enchants at this hour. The disappearing sunlight tints the stone streets, gilds the white houses, and highlights the blockish temple.
Nicodemus looks across the slate roofs at the massive square: gleaming and resplendent. He walked its courtyard this morning. He’ll do so again tomorrow. He’ll gather with religious leaders and do what religious leaders do: discuss God. Discuss reaching God, pleasing God, appeasing God.
Pharisees converse about God. And Nicodemus sits among them. Debating. Pondering. Solving puzzles. Resolving dilemmas. Sandal-tying on the Sabbath. Feeding people who won’t work.
Divorcing your wife. Dishonoring parents.
If you want to know about religion then you go to the Pharisees. Each one of us has a little bit of Pharisee in us. We are always looking for a way to be religious to get to God. We are looking for the list of things that we must do to be a Christian or to go to heaven. We like the 10 commandments. We like the list then we can do something.
So you could imagine that Nicodemus was on a journey of investigation. Maybe for the Pharisees maybe even more for himself. What does God say? Nicodemus needs to know. It’s his job.
He’s a holy man and leads holy men. His name appears on the elite list of Torah scholars. He dedicated his life to the law and occupies one of the seventy-one seats of the Judean supreme court. He has credentials, clout, and questions.
You could imagine that on this day Nicodemus was a little distracted. As they were discussing God there was this Galilean who wandered the streets claiming to be God. The crowds were following to. Not only did he claim to be God but there were the miracles. The lame walking, the blinded receiving sight. Demons were being banished. He even says that sins are forgiven.
He witnessed Jesus purge Solomon’s Porch. He saw the fury. Braided whip, flying doves. “There will be no pocket padding in my house!” Jesus erupted. By the time the dust settled and coins landed, hustling clerics were running a background check on him. The man from Nazareth won no favor in the temple that day.
So Nicodemus comes at night. His colleagues can’t know of the meeting. They wouldn’t understand. But Nicodemus can’t wait until they do. As the shadows darken the city, he steps out, slips unseen through the cobbled, winding streets. He passes servants lighting lamps in the courtyards and takes a path that ends at the door of a simple house. Jesus and his followers are staying here, he’s been told. Nicodemus knocks.
(1) There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
IOW. At this point we are not exactly sure what to do with you but from what we can see with what you are doing it seems that you must come from God. Maybe a prophet or something. There is something different about this man. It is the testament of history of who Jesus is. You may not understand him. You may not be sure who he is but you must reconcile with the fact that this man changed history.