Summary: When Nicodemus meets Jesus, Jesus tosses him a spiritual hand grenade . You must be born again

EMB HC 14-03-2021

A report in the newspaper CoventryLive 19th Dec 2020 ran this article

Che Williams was using his magnetic fishing rod in an attempt to find an old rod he had once lost in that area of the river.

Instead, he ended up pulling up a hand grenade.

He pulled up 18 more, as well as a bullet and around three cans before calling the police.

Speaking to CoventryLive, Che said:

"I was actually trying to catch something I lost in the river years ago.

"I was fishing and hadn't caught anything/, so thought I may as well try to find what I'd lost /and ended up pulling out a hand grenade."

And in a similar way, I believe Nicodemus goes to Jesus /fishing for some fresh insights into the coming of God’s Kingdom.

He would have known that the coming of the Messiah /a hot topic at the time /was the start of the ushering in of the Kingdom of God.

Instead Jesus lobs him a spiritual hand grenade.

"You must be born again".

Not: "Well thank you very much, Nicodemus for your kind words. So what can I do for you?

A bombshell. " You must be born again"

It was so unexpected that Nicodemus can only stammer out

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus seemed to speak so abruptly to Nicodemus?

I think it is because Jesus knew his man.

He saw behind Nicodemus' question.

Nicodemus / like many earnest Pharisees in his day / was looking for the day when the Kingdom of God would come.

So Jesus got to the heart of the matter:

If you want to see the kingdom of God - You must be born again.

1. Background

So let’s unpack that a little more - starting with the background to Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night secretly.

Have you ever wondered why he came to Jesus at night?

i) Was it perhaps because he wanted to speak to Jesus in quiet and not be disturbed?

ii) Or was it because he did not want it known - that he was speaking with a Galilean carpenter?

After all Galilee was hillbilly country to refined Jews

Nicodemus is a perfect gentleman. He is very polite when he says to Jesus:

"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". (John 3:2).

Like Che Williams in Coventry Live article /who was surprised to find a live hand grenade/ so Nicodemus was surprised when Jesus tossed him an intellectual hand grenade .

Nicodemus / like many earnest Pharisees in his day / was looking for the day when the Kingdom of God would come.

So Jesus got to the heart of the matter:

If you want to see the kingdom of God - You must be born again.

2. What was Jesus trying to do?

Jesus wanted to challenge Nicodemus' whole mind-set.

And so Jesus gave him a conundrum to go away and think about.

Jesus was challenging the whole way of thinking of the Pharisees.

They thought that they made themselves fit for the Kingdom of God - by keeping the Law of Moses.

And in effect Jesus was saying - No, you don’t. The only way is that : You must be born again.

In other words, Nicodemus, you can't earn salvation, it is a free gift of God.

And that is as true today as it was for Nicodemus.

Just like Nicodemus and the other Pharisees, there is a danger today that people think that they can earn a place in heaven - simply by going to Church and being nice people?

But you can’t – you must be born again

As Robert Leroe once put it:

If you’re born once, you die twice.

If you’re born twice, you die once!

3. So what does being born again mean?

Being born again is a direct result of faith in Jesus - through His death and Resurrection. Something I believe Nicodemus himself learnt later.

This is something that we experience – just like physical birth is.

But unlike a natural birth, it is something we receive when we ask Christ to come into our lives.

Many of us have our own personal story of how we experience this birth.

Story: John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church was 35 years old when he came into contact with the Moravian missionaries in London, who showed him the way to Christ.

He had even been ordained a priest in the Church of England year before he was born again.

His conversion experience was in a meeting hall where he discovered his spirit being "strangely warmed." as he recorded in his journal.

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