Summary: God's great gift is a new birth in Christ
John 3:13-17: You must be born again
Story: Richard Daly who was mayor of Chicago for 21 years (1955-1976).
Mayor Daly was known as a rather forbidding guy to work for.
One day one of Mayor Daly’s speech writers came in and asked for a pay raise.
Mayor Daly, who was rather stingy responded in his usual way.
He said “I’m not going to give you a pay rise.
You are getting paid more than enough already.
It should be enough for you that you are working for a great American hero like myself.”
And that was the end of it...or so the mayor thought.
Two weeks later Mayor Daly was on his way to give a speech to a convention of veterans.
The speech was going to receive nationwide attention.
Now one other thing Mayor Daly was famous for was not reading his speeches until he got up to deliver them.
So, as he stood there before a vast throng of veterans and nationwide press coverage, he opened his speech and began to read
He began to describe the plight of the veterans.
“I’m concerned for you. I have a heart for you. I am deeply convinced that this country needs to take care of its veterans.
So, today I am proposing a seventeen point plan that includes the city, state and federal government, to care for the veterans of this country.”
Now by this time everyone, including Mayor Daly, was on the edge of their seats to hear what the proposal was.
But as he turned the page these were the only words he saw.
“You’re on your own now, you great American hero.”
But unlike Mayor Daly, our Gospel this morning reminds us that we are not “on our own”.
God has a plan to save us.
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
I wonder what your picture of God is like.
Would you be more likely to associate God with “the Ten Commandments” or the word “love”?
Story: I remember Dr. Billy Graham going on French television and being told by the commentator:
"Dr. Graham, the whole of France is watching you - you have two minutes to prove to us God exists."
To which Billy Graham replied:
"I can’t do that but I can tell you what I do know:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
The background to our Gospel reading this morning was that Niocodemus, a top Jewish rabbi had come to Jesus by night to talk to him
Nicodemus had come seeking answers about religion and Jesus told him,
“It’s not about religion – it’s all about a relationship…”
Being born again is all about the grace of God, not the grace of man.
People in the world are shocked to hear that entrance into heaven is not based on what people do
It’s based on the “Grace of God”
Grace goes beyond our comprehension
By our human nature, we want to earn God’s favour
We want to get ourselves into heaven.
After all we are self sufficient in the West
Many people think of God having a big book with our names on a page
And every time we do a good deed, God puts a little tick by our name and every time we do a bad deed, God puts a cross by our name.
Actually that latter thought isn’t far from the truth – for it is the Cross of Jesus Christ that washes away our sin.
Story: I read the story of how Louis XII of France treated his enemies after he ascended to the throne.
Before coming to power, he had been cast into prison and kept in chains.
Later when he became king, he was urged to seek revenge but he refused.
Instead, he prepared a scroll on which he listed all who had perpetrated crimes against him.
Behind every man's name he placed a cross in red ink.
When the guilty heard about this, they feared for their lives and fled.
Then the king explained, "The cross which I drew beside each name was not a sign of punishment, but a pledge of forgiveness extended for the sake of the crucified Saviour, who upon His cross forgave His enemies and prayed for them."
If you think that we get into heaven or not depending on the number of good marks versus the bad marks…
Jesus says: “Think again”
That’s not how God’s plan works
Jesus said, “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born again…”