Summary: What does it mean to be Born Again? Nicodemus wanted to know. Our human problem is selfishness.... every major world religion has a teacher....and prescribed codes for behavior but only Jesus rose from death....the others are still in their graves... so
In Jesus Holy Name June 3, 2012
Text: John 3:5, 14
“Who Can Be Saved?”
Charles Shultz, creator and author of the Peanuts cartoon characters often conveys a Christian message in his comic strips. In one strip he conveys through Charlie Brown the need we have to be loved and accepted. Lucy demonstrates our human inability to love one another.
Charlie Brown and Lucy are leaning over the proverbial fence speaking to one another:
CB: All it would take to make me happy is to have someone say he likes me.
Lucy: Are you sure?
CB: Of course I'm sure!
Lucy: You mean you'd be happy if someone merely said he or she likes you? Do you mean to tell me that someone has it within his or her power to make you happy merely by doing such a simple thing?
CB: Yes! That's exactly what I mean!
Lucy: Well, I don't think that's asking too much. I really don't. [Now standing face to face, Lucy asks one more time] But you're sure now? All you want is to have someone say, "I like you, Charlie Brown," and then you'll be happy?
CB: And then I'll be happy!
Lucy: [Lucy turns and walks away saying] I can't do it!
What Lucy cannot do, sinful as she is, God does. What Charlie Brown needs, lost and alone as he is, God supplies. God loves you and is telling you today, "He loves you!" "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son."
A number of years ago, I read a newspaper account of a speech given by the president of a well-known university to a group of influential businessmen and civic leaders. The president told of a recent experience which he, his audience, and the newspaper reporter found humorous. The president was shopping during the Christmas season and happened to pass by a Salvation Army volunteer, standing by a “donation kettle” and ringing a bell.
As he paused to make a donation, the woman volunteer asked this educator: “Sir, are you saved?” When he replied that he supposed he was, she was not satisfied, so she pursued the matter further: “I mean, have you ever given your full life to the Lord?” At this point, the president told his audience, he thought he should enlighten this persistent woman concerning his identity: “I am the president of such and such university, and as such, I am also president of its school of theology.”
The lady considered his response for a moment, and then replied, “It doesn’t matter wherever you’ve been, or whatever you are, you can still be saved.” She was asking the question: In whom do you place your trust for your eternal address? Yourself, Your own deeds… or Jesus?
The most tragic part of this incident is that both the seminary president and his audience actually thought his story was amusing. One can imagine that if Nicodemus had been confronted by this Salvation Army volunteer, he would have thought—and said—just about the same thing as the university president. Nicodemus is the “cream of the Jewish crop.” One dare not dream of having life any better than he has it. He is a Jew, a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin (the highest legal, legislative and judicial body of the Jews), and a highly respected teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures. Can you imagine being Nicodemus and having Jesus tell you that all of this is not enough to get you into the kingdom of God? Yet this is precisely what Jesus tells Nicodemus. If a man like Nicodemus is not good enough for the kingdom of God, then who is?
It is possible to be a religious person and still miss the promise of God's acceptance through His son, Jesus?
It is possible to be a religious person and be an unfulfilled person. You bet! Is it possible to be religious person and still be unsure about your eternal address? You bet! (read the story in Matthew 19:16-25)
Nicodemus has the same question. He came to Jesus at night….he did not want others to know his anxiety, his insecurity. This is basicly the conversation: “Good Teacher, Rabbi… we know you are a teacher who has come from God…., I have kept all of the rules and forms and rituals of our faith, but something is missing. Tell me what else I must do to fill this void.
One of the best photographs from the WWII era is a photo of King George the VI inspecting a bombed out section of London. He stops to talk with a little boy, who is sloppily dressed and has his cap on crooked. The King is bending on one knee and looking directly into the face of the child, and even though it is a profile shot of the king you can see that his is a look of compassion. Tell me that that child's life was not changed. Tell me that if he lived to be a hundred he forgot that day? I would suggest that once one truly looks into the eyes of Jesus, It is difficult to turn away.