Nicodemus Elim January 28 2018
text:John 3.1-21Psalm 139:13-18
Psalm 139 God’s infinite knowledge and love for us—key thought is v. 17 “How precious to me are Your thoughts (about me), O God.”
John 3.1-21 two great verses—v. 3 and v. 16
- Fuzz—in answer to the question, “have you found Jesus,” answered: I didn’t know He was
- Sometimes we get confused and think/feel that everyone needs to have the same experience
we have had with God, in the same way.
There is the story of Joe, who was wondering through the desert, weary and thirsty. He falls into a deep hole that is too steep to climb out of. He’s out of water. He is frightened and prays in desperation, “God save me!”
Someone happens to find him and pulls him out of the hole, giving him water and helping him find his way safely out of the desert. After that Joe spends his life grabbing people, dragging them into the desert, and throwing them into that same hole so that they too might “be saved.”
This Gospel account is about discovering Jesus, finding out who He is and what our relationship with Him might be. It is about coming in the cover of darkness to seek knowledge and light.
“You cannot see the Kingdom of God without being born from above”—except through God’s help—spiritual rebirth.
The kingdom cannot be discovered with physical eyes, though we can observe it in people’s lives and actions. Viewing the Kingdom takes a special gift, divine enlightenment—being born from above. Spiritual eyesight comes as a gift of God.
Consistent with the rest of Scripture is the thought that we are born spiritually dead and need to be birthed through God’s divine agency. John’s gospel weaves this theme through this narrative in a delightful way contrasting light and darkness, old and new, heavenly and earthly, physical and spiritual, etc. It is significant that Nicodemus comes at night, under the cover of darkness. the darkness symbolizing confusion, seeking, questioning, doubting, wrestling, and struggling!
There is too much in our reading to focus on it all, so suffice it to say that this passage is significant for all of us who have struggled with questions and wanting answers and feeling like we are stumbling through in the dark. And then find Jesus!
Regarding Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus on rebirth through water and the Spirit, this passage has been interpreted at least four different ways:
- John’s baptism in the Jordan River as the water baptism and baptism in the Spirit by Jesus.
- Christian baptism—water whether by immersion or pouring and God’s Spiritual regeneration.
- Natural birth pictured as water—embryotic fluid and spiritual birth through faith in Jesus.
- A double metaphor for emphasis on spiritual regeneration—rebirth and new life.
The other great verse in our reading today is the Gospel in a nut shell—John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
The best application of this verse is to insert your name for the word “whosoever.” Because this verse is the Gospel in a nutshell encompassing all of us. We are all part of the world. Luther’s thoughts on this verse is to stop, pinch yourself. If you feel the pinch, the pain, then know you are in the world and that this verse is meant for you too! And take comfort and hope in it. For you are loved. You are the target of God’s love in Christ Jesus. Jesus died specifically for you.