In the Gospel of John we read in the third chapter of John starting at verse one;
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 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."
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
4"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!"
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ’You must be born again.’ 8 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."
Friends, in today’s gospel, Nicodemus, a religious leader of the Jewish people, came to Jesus at night. He came at night in order to avoid public attention. You see his position in society could be compromised if people saw him with Jesus. Nicodemus realizes Jesus comes from God but he is not quite sure. He is not ready to believe in him. Aren’t we like Nicodemus? We are not sure how far we can go with this Jesus. We have our doubts so we hesitate in giving Jesus our lives. We are not sure we can trust him.
A man was talking with a salesman at a car dealership. They noticed a man closely examining a car. The salesman said, “He is a wheel-kicker. He’ll say the wheels are out of alignment. He’ll listen to the motor and hear a knock. Nobody else can hear a knock but he can. Something is always wrong. He is afraid to choose; he can never make up his mind, so he always finds an excuse.” Brothers and sisters, what excuses do we make in order to avoid following Jesus. What excuse do we make for missing worship or Bible study or helping at the church or supporting the church financially? Do we really trust Jesus and desire to live for him or are we just kicking the tires of Christianity?
We continue the reading in John chapter three from verse nine to fifteen;
9"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
10 "You are Israel’s teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11 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. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
Friends, you see Christianity is more than coming to church once a month or throwing one dollar in the plate. To be a Christian is to give our lives to Jesus and to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to be changed. When people see us they should notice that we are different than everyone else. They should see a little bit of Jesus in us because we are connected to him in a loving relationship. And by living in this relationship with Jesus our lives are changed. Our lives are improved and shine like light in the darkness.
A missionary in Africa hooked up a generator and had a light bulb hanging from a wire in his tent which provided light for him. He showed the natives this light and they were amazed. One of them asked for a light bulb, so the missionary gave a light bulb to the man. Later that month when the missionary was visiting all the surrounding villages he came across this man’s hut. The missionary went inside and saw the light bulb hanging from a string from the ceiling. Needless to say the bulb was not lit so the missionary explained how the light bulb needed electrical power.
Friends, in the same way we need to be connected to Jesus in order to experience or have the power of God living in us. If we are not connected to Jesus in this life then we are like the light bulb attached to a string. We are in the dark. Now is coming to church once a month; really being connected to Jesus? Can we experience the life giving power of the Holy Spirit if we only worship God once a month or we only pray to him when we are in need or we never read our Bibles? No. We must live in a daily relationship with Jesus in order to experience his life and his power. Brothers and sisters, please remain connected to Jesus. Come to worship regularly, receive Holy Communion, read your Bibles daily, and pray always. Then we can experience the power of living in the Spirit.
We conclude with the reading in John Chapter three verses sixteen and seventeen;
16 "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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Finally, we see that God’s motivation in sending Jesus into the world to die on a cross and rise from the dead is love. God sent Jesus to us not to condemn us but in order to love us and save us. We no longer need to fear God or condemnation because Jesus has paid the price for us. And by simply believing in and trusting Jesus we are free from sin, death, the devil, and fear. You see that love cast out fear.
“A young boy was afraid of the dark and would always cry for his mother at night. She was pregnant at the time and it was difficult to get up in the night for her son but she always did. One night she was holding her son close and he felt the baby kick in his mother’s stomach. The little boy asked, “Mama is it dark in there for my baby brother?” She replied, “Yes it is dark in there.” The boy said, “He doesn’t even have a night light, does he? Do you think he is scared?” The mother replied, “I don’t think so because he is not really alone. He is inside me. And it is the same with you. When it is dark and you think you are by yourself, you really aren’t. I carry you inside me too. Right here in my heart.” That was the last time the boy was afraid of the dark.
Brothers and sisters, in the same way we are in the heart of Jesus. We are in his light. We can trust Jesus completely…he is always with us. Please believe in Jesus and live! Amen.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, we believe you are God, our salvation, our peace…help our unbelief…send your Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may know you and always trust your loving embrace…in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen.