Our series Questions People Asked Jesus continues Sunday in our Sanctuary worship at 9:30 and 11:00 with a couple of questions from a secret seeker. His name was Nicodemus. He was a religious leader and, as such, we can assume that he didn’t want to be seen seeking out Jesus for a conversation. We can assume this because he went to see Jesus at night — under cover of darkness. He asked his questions in response to Jesus’ words to him, in which Jesus said, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”
Apparently, Nicodemus was a literalist, as many people were in response to Jesus’ teachings and as many people are today. He asked Jesus, ““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?” He is stumped by his literal interpretation of Jesus’ words. Perhaps it was his training and religious practice as a Pharisee. He probably did his best to keep every word of the laws of the scriptures and every word of the thousands of words interpreting the laws of scripture. By Nicodemus’ time, more than six hundred new laws had been created interpreting the old law on how you live life day to day and all the little things in life: what you eat, how you prepare food, what’s clean and unclean, what’s appropriate and inappropriate, what’s good and what’s bad, and many others. He did that to justify himself and to be righteous in the eyes of God and to earn righteousness by the way he lived his life. Pharisees were very scrupulous about their practice. Perhaps that kind of scrupulosity can lead to a kind of literalism.
But, I wonder, is it only that Nicodemus was a literalist that had him stumped and questioning the very possibility of being born anew? Perhaps we wonder about the possibility of new life. Perhaps, like Nicodemus, we might want to ask, “How is it possible? How is it possible for us to be born anew, or — as it might also be translated — born from above? How is it possible to start over and have new life? How is it possible for us to live this thing called eternal life when we see death all around us?
The new life Jesus describes doesn’t mean just getting our act together, turning over a new leaf or making a list of resolutions. Jesus is talking about something as radical as new birth, being born again. It’s not something you do or
I do; it’s something God does. To be born again also means to be born from above. In other words, it comes from God. It is God’s doing…not yours and not mine. What does that look like for us and for our world? I look forward to exploring this together on Sunday in our sanctuary worship.
In preparation for Sunday, I invite you to read John 3:1-17. Click here to read it John 3:1-17.
I’ll see you on Sunday!
Grace and Peace,