Summary: 2nd in the series "Conversations With Jesus." Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again. This sermon examines John 3:16 as the "Gospel in a Nutshell."
It was March 18. Leanne tried not to think about the fact that Melvin would have been 39 today. The face of the man driving the van flashed in her mind. She tried not to feel the anger. Once more the scream of brakes, the crash and then the silence replayed itself in her memory. She thought of the whispers in Melvin’s ear through a maze of tubes and machines, words that she could only hope he somehow had heard. Leanne remembered having to tell her two boys about the nightmare and trying to support them in their grief as she struggled with her own.
She remembered the sound of the blades whipping through the evening sky as the helicopter carried Melvin’s organs to others whose very life depended on his final gift. Who were they? Would she ever get to see them? The recipient of Melvin’s heart had written twice in the year and a half since the transplant. Leanne had finally found the courage to answer and admit that she longed to hear that beautiful heart beat again.
There was no way she could have known that at that very moment, John Meinhardt and his wife Jan were signing release forms to reveal their identity to the donor family.
John’s head swam with memories too: he could almost feel the mix of terror and elation hearing the nurse’s casual statement that a heart had been found. He wanted to live so much, but he had struggled with guilt knowing that for him to live someone else would die. He remembered the nurse walking away and his wife Jan slipping under the covers and holding him. She had kissed his heart good bye. Together they had prayed for the doctors and their future and surrendered the outcome to God.
Later that night a small light appeared in the evening sky and soon the roar of whipping chopper blades. Jan remembered the tears watching that blue Igloo cooler being lowered from the helicopter and carried into the hospital on a dolly. She had stopped the survival flight team and dropped to her knees to kiss the cooler. She prayed with their children for the success of the surgery and for family of the donor.
And now John was signing the papers to meet that family that so many times they had wrapped in gratitude. Soon John and Leanne were choking back tears as they spoke on the phone "When can we meet?" John asked. "How about in an hour at Latina’s Pizza?" Leanne replied.
An hour later Leanne laid her head upon John’s chest and heard the heart she had loved for so long, Melvin’s heart. The heart which had given new life to John. (Jan Meinhardt, http://www.rjwitte.com/changeofheart/May_1999_donor.htm)
New Life. That’s the topic for today. A man came to Jesus in the middle of the night and Jesus spoke to him about his need for new life. As John lay in a hospital bed he understood that a new heart was what he needed. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he wasn’t at all sure what he needed but Jesus helped him to find the truth.
Included in out text today is the best known and most widely memorized verse in all of Scripture, John 3:16. It contains the Gospel in a nutshell.