Summary: New Birth, god's Love, Life in Christ
THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
I’m not sure what your house looks like this morning, but my living room is filled with toys, open boxes of clothes, cast aside ribbons and wrapping paper. Yesterday morning the Burdette house was filled with excited screams, laughter and anticipation.
This morning was different…up early, but getting ready for church. Everyone else was asleep and it was quiet. It felt exactly like what is was…The day after Christmas.
All the preparation, all the anticipation reached its apex—yesterday. Now what?
I remember last year my whole family left for Florida on the day after Christmas. I helped them pack up the van and get on the road. I wasn’t able to go with them, so as I stood in the driveway watching them drive away I knew it would be really quiet in my house for the next week.
On that original Christmas day over 2,000 years ago most of the world had no idea God’s greatest present had been delivered, wrapped up in swaddling clothes and then had been laid in a manger. The shepherds knew. Christmas was an experience they would never forget. Mary knew something amazing was happening on the day after Christmas and she would treasure these memories. Dr. Luke says this about the shepherds after their visit: Luke 2:17-20
The day after Christmas for Mary and the shepherds was a day to ponder, to wonder, to be amazed at what God was doing and to testify about all they had seen and heard. I still believe this is an excellent way to spend the day after Christmas. It’s a lot more exciting than worrying about putting away decorations and taking down lights.
What does the birth of Jesus Christ mean for me and the whole world in the days that lay ahead? His birth, the birth of the King of Kings, Mary’s little lamb. The world would soon discover He was born so we might have the opportunity to be born again.
1. The same spirit that brought about His birth would bring our new birth.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. He had heard about Jesus’ miracles, he had heard about Jesus clearing the temple. He comes to visit Jesus at night. Why at night? Because he’s afraid? Because he’s cautious? Who knows?
But he says, “Rabbi (teacher) you must have come from God, because no one can do the things you’re doing unless God sent him!” A nice compliment but Jesus cuts to the chase. He gets right to the core of things immediately. “I tell you the truth; no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus doesn’t understand, but Jesus pushes the issue. “I tell you the truth no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit.”
It is extremely hard, if not impossible to have a spiritual conversation with someone who is thinking in worldly ways. We’ve all been there—the blank stare, the “I have no idea what you’re talking about” expression. Nicodemus wore both of those. “Surely a man can’t be born again when he’s old. He cannot reenter his mother’s womb. This is impossible. What are you talking about?” Jesus explains there’s a huge difference in a baby’s real birth and spiritual rebirth. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit.”
Nicodemus was thinking biology. Jesus is thinking theology. The Rabbi from heaven was informing the Rabbi from Israel to see through God’s eyes and to enter His kingdom didn’t include sex education, but spiritual transformation. Eighteen inches separate most of mankind from seeing and entering God’s kingdom…the distance between the head and the heart.
Nicodemus knew about God. He was an expert in God’s laws. He was a Pharisee devoted to obedience and faithfulness to the Torah. But Nicodemus does not understand this new birth. And Jesus rebukes him: John 3:10-13.
Nicodemus was trying to be good enough. He was a seeker of answers. He’s visiting Jesus for answers. He had influence and prestige. He had religion. Jesus was trying to teach him about a relationship and for this to happen he had to be reborn, spiritually changed from within and from above.
The miracle of the virgin birth was because “the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the most high overshadowed her.” (Luke 1:35). It is that same spirit that gives us new birth, opens our eyes to see God’s kingdom and pulls us toward the door so we can enter it. The same spirit that brought about Jesus’ birth brings our new birth.
Nicodemus might have been familiar with the words of Ezekiel the prophet, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26). But Nicodemus didn’t know the truth of what that scripture meant. Being born again means an inner reawakening. The literal translation is “born from above.” Jesus is saying for you and me to be in right relationship with God He has to perform heart surgery.