Summary: Instead of going to a museum, we’re going to go to the Master; instead of cracking a code of conspiracy, we’re going to learn about the mode of conversion.
Cracking the DaVinci Code: Searching for Holy Grace
Rev. Brian Bill
Note: All of our sermons are also available as audio files and downloadable manuscripts at www.pontiacibible.org.
Are you drawn to history or mystery, or both? What we’ve established in our series called “Cracking the DaVinci Code,” is that while Dan Brown has honed in on the human need for mystery, his history is more hysterical than anything else. I don’t plan on seeing the movie but I did enjoy this review on CNN.com: “The movie did receive some lukewarm praise, but the majority of the response was highly critical. One scene during the film, meant to be serious, elicited prolonged laughter from the audience. There was no applause when the credits rolled; instead, a few catcalls and hisses broke the silence. The Hollywood Reporter headlined its review, ‘Da Vinci Code an unwieldy, bloated puzzle’” (as posted on my blog, 5/17/06, www.pontiacbible.org/brian). When I read this quote to my friend Lee on Thursday while we were working out, he had a very perceptive response: “It just goes to show you that the Bible is strong.” I’m glad that people believe the Bible over Brown.
Reporter Jeffrey Weiss from the Dallas Morning News wrote: “Experts agree: Dan Brown gets most of his facts wrong. Religion scholars have been whacking the ‘Da Vinci Code’ like a low-hanging piñata” (www.dallasnews.com). We’ve taken some whacks as well this past month as we’ve focused on how to separate fact from fiction. We’ve also studied who Jesus really is, whether or not you can trust the Bible, and last week we learned how Mary Magdalene moved from chaos to conversion to community to contributing to commitment to communicating.
While many critics have criticized the “DaVinci Code,” it has capitalized on the human desire to get in touch with something beyond what we can see. In addition, millions seem intrigued with mysterious conspiracies and alternative spirituality. Why is that? Simply put, it’s because God has put within every person a desire to know Him according to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” I’d like to suggest this morning that we cannot settle for superficial answers to deeply spiritual questions. We’ve spent four weeks dismantling the deception found in the DaVinci Code; it’s now time for us to look at why this stuff resonates with so many people.
Matt Lauer, co-host of the Today Show on NBC, did a special segment this week called, “On the Road with the Code.” The idea was to search out some of the locations and interview some experts about Brown’s controversial claims. I only watched one segment and was surprised that the museum director he interviewed at the Louvre in Paris had not even read the book but was quick to dismantle some of the myths. Matt Lauer also interviewed the major players in the movie. I was struck by this comment made by actor Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Sir Leigh Teabing, after he was asked whether the movie should have a disclaimer indicating that it is fiction: “Well, I’ve often thought that the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying, ‘this is fiction’” (www.msnbc.com).
I’d like to give a couple disclaimers this morning. First, my own views don’t have any value; no fiction found in a book has lasting benefit; and nothing in a movie has merit if it is not based on the Bible. Friend, the Bible is not fiction; it is fact! My second disclaimer is that I’m “DaVincied out,” if that’s a phrase. While we’ve taken a detailed look at the claims in the book over the last four weeks, this morning we’re going to go on the road, not with the code, but with Christ Himself. Specifically, we’re going to listen to a clip between a man who was searching for spiritual secrets and how he found them by interviewing the Savior.
Instead of going to a museum, we’re going to go to the Master; instead of cracking a code of conspiracy, we’re going to learn about the mode of conversion. This man’s name is Nicodemus and he was trying to solve the puzzle of life. I’m sure Matt Lauer was thrilled to be able to interview some famous people; this inquisitive individual had to be ecstatic to finally be alone with Jesus and be free to ask him any question he wanted. Nick wants in on the secret to spirituality. Jesus reveals three secrets from this passage.
1. Being good is never good enough because it’s not about religion; it’s about rebirth. Please turn in your Bibles to John 3:1: “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.” Here’s what we know about Nicodemus. First, he was a Pharisee. In the first century the Pharisees were widely respected for their intense piety and deep scholarship. These men had taken a solemn vow to devote their entire life to keeping the Ten Commandments. That meant studying the Scriptures diligently, praying two hours a day, giving a tithe of all they possessed, and being concerned about morality. There were never more than 6000 Pharisees because they were a select group and not many men would make that kind of personal sacrifice.