Our scripture this week is John 3:1-17.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
This week’s Gospel lesson contains what may be the best known and most quoted scripture verse of all, John 3:16. I’ll bet you repeated it in your head as you read that! It is a testimony about Christ from Christ Himself, about God’s love for the world and the salvation He sent us.
Now, without looking back at the included scripture above, how many know “the rest of the story”? I’m sure many of you do, but we are less likely to know the context of this lesson than the verse so often quoted. I will tell you, if you only know one verse from scripture, this is an important one to know!
However, this is exactly what Jesus is trying to teach Nicodemus in this passage. Knowing that God loves us and sends His salvation is essential, but we must begin from that point to learn about His love and share that joy with everyone. During this season of Lent, let us look into ourselves to discover the gifts God has provided us, and then go into the world to use them in His name.
Gracious God, we are grateful for the gift of being born again to new life in You. Help us to show the world the joy of Your love and the assurance a relationship with You brings. Amen.