Summary: LENT 2, YEAR A - This passage is so familiar that our expectations cloud our sight from seeing what is right in front of us. Come and read John 3:16 again as if for the first time, for that’s what it means to be "Born Again".
There is the story of an elderly gentleman who lived in a mid-western town. One day as he sat on his porch a stranger walk up and said, “Could you tell me about the people who live in this town? I’m thinking of moving here and want to know if this is a good place to live.” The elderly gentleman stopped his rocking and asked, “Well first tell me what type of people are there where you live now?” With a frown on his face the stranger said, “Well, the children are always making noise and running up and down the streets. The neighbors are always sticking their noses in other people’s business. And they never leave you alone.” “Then I’m afraid you would be disappointed here young man,” said the elderly gentleman, “for the people in this town are just like that.” With a huff the stranger walked away. Later in the afternoon another stranger approached the elderly gentleman and said, “Excuse me sir, but could you tell me about the people who live in this town? My company is moving me here and want to know if this is a good place to live.” The elderly gentleman stopped his rocking and asked, “Well tell me first what type of people are there where you live now?” A wide grin appeared on the stranger’s lips and he said, “Well, the children are great, they are always laughing and having fun as they run up and down the streets. The neighbors are compassionate and caring and nothing happens that they don’t know about. And they will never leave you alone.” “Then I’m glad to say that you would be happy here young man,” said the elderly gentleman, “for the people in this town are just like that.” And so with a joy filled heart the stranger walked away.
Expectations, we all have them. Expectations make all the difference in the world. Or put another way, what you expect to see is ultimately what you will get. Expectations can be good and expectations can be bad. They can help, or they can get in the way. Our preconceived expectations can cloud our eyes from seeing what is really there. John 3:16 - Nicodemus - You must be born again. We know the story. We know what to expect. Nicodemus - sneaking in at night, lest his fellow Pharisees learn of what he has done. “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these miracles except by the power of God.” Brown nosing it are we Nicodemus! Trying to butter up the teacher? Don’t you need an apple for that? So Jesus blasts this weaselly Pharisee. “You must be born again!!!” Ha, Ha - Got Ya! In this version of the story Nicodemus gets a bad rap. He is not a person. He is a two dimensional bit player who is used to display Jesus’ obvious superiority. He is seen as a cowardly fool, sneaking around under cover of darkness. A Pharisee ready to betray his brothers, to the delight of Christians near and far. We assume that his pharisaic training has trapped him in the letter of the law. And we can never seem to decide whether he is too learned for his own good, or too dimwitted to understand about being born again?