Our Gospel lesson is John 3:1-17, taken today from the New International Version.
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.
Jesus is the Master and also a master teacher. When Nicodemus the Pharisee comes to Him with questions, Jesus gives examples he should be able understand. While this Pharisee seems earnest in his desire to learn, his culture and training lead him to question what Jesus has told him. Jesus says “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (v. 12).
Are we sometimes like Nicodemus in that we find the Master’s teaching too amazing to understand? He tells us no matter how badly we have fallen away, God is ready to forgive and welcome us back. We must repent of our wrongdoing and change our lives, as if we were born again.
We have a hard time accepting that we could experience this kind of change because we are unable to do it on our own. As humans, we seem to think if we can’t make it happen, it can’t be done. Jesus reminds us “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). When we trust in God, we can live new lives, born again in His love.
Gracious God, our understanding is limited but through faith we see the truth. Help us to change our hearts and minds and lives, to be the disciples of today in Your world. Amen.