Summary: This message deals with God’s plan for salvation as outlined in John 3. We will take a close look at the man Nicodemus. Uses a few ideas from Max Lucado’s book 3:16.
The Simple Life at Church
“Salvation Made Simple”
About a year ago a TV series had become fairly popular called “The Simple Life.” It featured Paris Hilton, millionaire, Hilton Hotel fame and Nicole Richey, also from a very wealthy family. Basically what you have are 2 spoiled kids. They have been given everything money can buy and so they were invited to try and live the simple life. They would travel the country in a bus - they would live with different families, usually in the country, perhaps on a farm. They would milk the cows, feed the hogs, get up at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. and they would attempt to live the Simple Life. As you can imagine, it simply did not work! Neither of them had ever had to do anything for themselves, had never done physical labor and so, for them, it really was NOT the simple life.
Today, I am beginning a new teaching series called “The Simple Life at Church” and I told you right before I went in for surgery a couple of weeks ago, that when I came back we would be talking about change and some changes that we will be implementing here at Eagle’s Landing. And that is what you will be hearing about in the weeks to come.
I went in for my surgery about 3 weeks ago with most of my questions answered about the surgery.....they told me the extent of the surgery but I didn’t realize how sore I would be following the surgery......most of the soreness, of course, was in my throat.....I couldn’t eat for over a week.........lost 11 lbs., but I don’t recommend the diet plan! You know, there’s the Atkins plan, the South Beach Diet and this plan I would call “The Cut Throat Diet”...... just let the doctor cut your throat and you’re so sore you can’t eat! When the surgeon described what he was going to do, it began to sound a bit extensive, but I think what surprised me more than anything was when he said the surgery would take a couple of hours and then I would immediately go home.....of course, we can all thank HMO’s and our insurance companies....when my wife had her tonsils out she was 19 years old and they kept her in the hospital 5 days......that was only one of the things they were doing on me and sent me straight home the same day!
I am reminded of a funny story.....3 men died and they were all standing at the pearly gates. Peter met them at the gate and said to the first one, “Tell me what you’ve done to deserve Heaven.” The first guy said, “Well, I’m a police officer, I’ve enforced the law, I’ve fought crime all my life.” Peter said, “OK, come on in.” The 2nd fellow steps up and says “Well, I’ve given a lot of money to charity and to the church.” Peter says, “Great! Come on in.” The 3rd guy was the Director of an HMO.....he says, “I’ve helped save the health care industry millions of dollars by cutting down on the amount of time people can stay in the hospital.” Peter says, “Fine, come on in.....but you can only stay for 23 hours. You see, there’s going to be a payback for these people.” In reality, we have all heard jokes about people showing up at the “Pearly Gates” seeking entrance into Heaven. While these stories usually make us smile, behind most of them is the false assumption that we must do something to get into Heaven. You see, we make it too complicated. It’s actually much simpler. It’s a part of the “Simple Life” that God wants us to live.
In the text today, we come across one of those people who had a way making things complicated. In this case, he is trying to make salvation complicated. His name was Nicodemus and I want us to listen in to the conversation he was having with Jesus here in John chapter 3. It was at night that this leader of the Jews, Nicodemus, decided to pay Jesus a visit. We speculate why he came a night.............several possibilities: (1) Rabbis use the evenings to study.....perhaps he thought it would be convenient to get to Jesus at that time, (2) He may have wanted to avoid the crowd during the day, (3) He may have feared being seen with Jesus. But for whatever reason, here is Nicodemus coming with several very important spiritual questions.
We should know right up front Nicodemus was no ordinary citizen. He was Rich. He was Repected. He was very Religious. He was a Ruler, a leader. He also had a deep interest in Jesus; he had great respect for Jesus. He addresses Him as a teacher which tells us that Nicodemus felt there were things that he could learn at the feet of Jesus. He recognizes that Jesus’ ministry has been blessed by God. (Verse 2)