Our Gospel lesson this week is John 3:1-17, 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.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that God sent Him not to condemn the world but that “the world might be saved through Him” (v. 17). Humankind has already condemned themselves by turning to selfish things, rather than sharing the gifts God has provided. However, God in His mercy still wants to be in relationship with us and is willing to forgive our failings.
Jesus came to show us how to be saved and what a life in God means. His words and actions always gave glory to the Father, and He teaches us to do the same. A life centered around God leads to salvation; a self-centered life leads nowhere.
Jesus teaches us to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others and the gifts we have been given to meet those needs. We were created to love God and each other and through this be blessed with true happiness. Earthly things will disappear but God’s love endures forever.
Wise and wonderful God, often we think of ourselves first and everything else afterwards. Help us to be mindful of Your gifts and how to use them to love Your children. Amen.