Sunday, May 27, 2018

John 3:1-17

There was a prominent Jewish leader by the name of Nicodemus. He was a member of the Pharisee party, a group of men known for their piety and attention to the scriptures. Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest council of the Jews. 2 One night he met up with Jesus and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a God-sent teacher. No one could do all those miraculous God-revealing signs unless God empowered it all.”

3 Jesus responded, “Amen to that. You’ve nailed it with your God-given insight. Unless someone is born from above it would be to impossible see that I’m directing people to God’s kingdom.”

4 Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus’ comment about being born from above and thought that he was talking about a literal rebirth. So he asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? Can he crawl back into his mother’s womb for a second birth?”

5 Jesus redirected Nicodemus to his point -- “You can be certain of this -- unless someone experiences life-giving birth through both the water of creation and the Spirit’s recreation you can’t participate in God’s regime. It’s both water and Spirit. 6 Whoever is developed through the natural human process of pregnancy emerges as a being of flesh. On the other hand, the person born through the rebirthing process of the Spirit becomes a living spiritual being.

7 So don’t be surprised when I say that, ‘You must be born from above.’ You need to have a spiritual rebirth. 8 And God’s Spirit blows like an unpredictable wind with a mind of its own. You can hear it swooshing about but you can’t nail it down -- where it’s coming from or which direction it will go next. This illustrates how things work for all who have a Spirit-generated birth.”

9 Nicodemus said, “I still don’t get it. Explain how all this works.”

10 With a twinkle in his eye Jesus responded, “You’re a big shot teacher of all things Israel and you don’t already know this stuff? 11 We’re not messing with you. We know this because we’ve actually seen it ourselves. But we’re having a hard time getting you all to accept what we say. 12 So, if you don’t accept the down to earth clear as day stuff I’ve been saying, how are you ever going to accept what I tell you about heavenly things? 13-15 No one has taken a round trip up to heaven but the Uber Man has come down from there. So look up to him. You remember the story in Numbers 21:5-9 about how the Hebrew people during the wilderness wandering complained against God; and then they were attacked and bitten by poisonous snakes. Many died. So Moses made a bronze replica of one of the snakes and attached it to a pole. He then lifted it up and those who had been bitten were healed as they looked at it. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Uber Man be lifted up on a pole. That way everyone who looks up to him and believes will be healed into a whole and lasting life. 16 God’s love for the world he created was so great that he offered up his one and only Son. And everyone who looks up to him and believes will escape the grip of death into a whole and lasting life. 17 For when God sent his Son into the world his mission was not to condemn the world. Rather he was sent to save the world.”