Sermons

Summary: Being accused of acting like a child is a major insult but not from Jesus. Jesus wants more people that act like children.

-In our culture, saying that someone is acting like a child is not really a compliment

-We are always telling our children to grow up, to act their age

-In the immortal words of that great philosopher, the artist formerly known as Prince, “Act your age not your shoe size.” {PAUSE}

-There’s a new movie out in theaters called “17 Again” starring Matthew Perry of Friends fame

-The premise of the movie is that Mike O’Donnell (played by Perry) was a high school basketball phenom

-College scouts were swarming him but he turned down their offers to marry his expectant high school sweetheart

-However, 20 years later, he gets passed over for a promotion, his marriage is on the rocks and his teenagers hate his guts

-While he is living with a high school friend, he is transported back into his 17 year old body (sounds like fun) and gets a chance to relive his life but with the assistance of his late thirties wisdom {PAUSE}

-Sounds a little like our Gospel lesson for today

-Well at least in a way

-Sounds a little like the question that Nicodemus asks of Jesus

-Our text says, “In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘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!’"

-Those are words that we’ve heard a lot over the years so they are familiar to us

-However, you can imagine the surprise that Nicodemus experienced when he heard those words for the first time

-My goal today is that you might hear those words afresh today and grasp the miracle of Jesus’ words {PAUSE}

-This story has much intrigue

-But we need to back up to get the full scoop

-If you’d like, you can turn back to the preceding chapter and set the stage

-Chapter 2 begins with Jesus going to a wedding with His mother Mary and His disciples

-They run out of wine and Jesus does His first miracle at the prompting of His mother and saves the wedding celebration

-The next story is Jesus going to Jerusalem to get ready for the Passover

-When He enters the temple, He sees people buying and selling animals and exchanging money

-He makes a whip out of some rope and drives everyone out, including the animals

-But that is a problem because the synoptic Gospels, as they are called, (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tell that Jesus cleanses the temple the week of His passion

-So the question is, did Jesus cleanse the temple twice or does John place this story here not for chronological reasons but for effect

-So with the stage set now

-Imagine the scene if you will

-Here is Jesus, who has just come into Jerusalem, perhaps near the end of His earthly existence and He basically ticks off all the movers and shakers in the temple but upsetting their money making operation

-It’s kind of like when Elliott Ness begins to go after the Italian mafia and gets into their pockets a bit and Al Capone takes several shots at taking Ness out

-With that, we have Nicodemus

-He is a renowned, well respected member of the Jewish ruling council

-He was a Pharisee

-The Pharisees, as you recall, were some of the religious leaders that Jesus would go toe to toe with throughout His earthly ministry

-Here they are, at least potential mortal enemies, meeting together

-So Nicodemus comes to see Jesus at night

-Why?

-The Bible doesn’t exactly answer the question

-Maybe he was afraid of being seen with Jesus

-Maybe he just wanted to make sure that he had Jesus for an extended conversation

-Have you ever been told something really profound or really deep and you just didn’t get it at the time?

-However, maybe you thought about it some more or some explained it to you and then it dawned on you just how cool or deep that information was.

-I’m not usually that slow on things but one time in our college philosophy class, we were studying Immanuel Kant.

-We had to write papers on some of the philosophers we had studied, and then compare and contrast their views.

-I wrote that Kant had a very low view of humanity.

-I thought this paper was going to be so good.

-I was really making my points.

-I was sure that the instructor would love it.

-I felt like a little kid again, telling my parents about the good things that I had done or learned in school

-I couldn’t wait for to get my paper back and read all the praise from my instructor

-I had taken a lot of writing classes in high school to prepare me for the academics at West Point.

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