Our gospel lesson this week is John 3:1-21, taken today from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
This passage teaches us two essential lessons – how much God loves us and the fact that we must be born again to be fully active in God’s plan for us. Jesus shares these truths with the Pharisee Nicodemus who comes to Him with questions just as we do. Through this exchange we are shown the need to change our hearts and lives as if we were being born again.
Nicodemus is unsure about this teaching, asking Jesus how this could occur. He looks at it from a worldly perspective, not the eternal view Jesus shares with us. If we are to understand we must let go of our self-centered way of living and treating each other.
Jesus calls us to see the blessing God offers and accept our responsibility in His kingdom. We must repent and live new lives. Only through this gift can we be saved.
Loving Lord, we are grateful for the gift of salvation through Your son. Help us to see the need to repent and change, living for You and sharing the Good News with the world. Amen.