Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 King 15-16; John 3:1-18
3 There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. 2 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.”
3 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”
4 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?”
5 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 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.”
9 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,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved