Nic at Nite

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 King 15-16; John 3:1-18

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”

Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?” (John 3:1-9, Common English Bible).

I’ve always been told, “Nothing good ever happens at night.” I don’t believe that never have, never will. If we believe that God is truly omnipotent and omnipresent that would mean God is there at 9:00 at night, midnight, or 3:00 AM. And, if God is present, good things are always happening.

Take the lesson above from John 3. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. There is probably a dual meaning here. John often placed double meanings in a text. There was the literal earthly meaning, Nicodemus was visiting with Jesus after dark or before daybreak. It was nighttime. I have little doubt that is true. Equally true too, Nicodemus was coming to Jesus during the night of his life and was seeking the light.

It also seems to me that Nicodemus doesn’t have enough light shining on the situation. He really wants to understand what Jesus is talking about but Nicodemus is thinking far too literally. As a Pharisee, it was probably all but impossible for him to think any other way. When Jesus talks about being born again, Nicodemus’ mind goes to the idea of re-entering ones’ mother’s womb. And of course, he knows that to be impossible. But, before we go thinking about impossibilities, we also need to remember, we Christians have been heard to say, “Nothing is impossible with God.” From an earthly perspective wouldn’t we say it is impossible to feed 5000 plus people with one little boy’s lunch? Yet Jesus did just that. But, I digress.

Jesus speaks of something of greater importance here. Jesus is speaking of a spiritual rebirth. Jesus’ words “by water and the spirit” allude to baptism where we are born again by water and the spirit. It is not a literal physical rebirth. We are born again of the spirit.

We United Methodists believe God is the primary actor in baptism. It may be my hands as the pastor using the water, but it is God who actually does the baptism. It is God bringing new life through grace.

Before all is said and done, Nicodemus will understand and will believe but it is still dark outside for good ole Nic at Nite.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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