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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lent 2A John 3:1-17 Ask a question and get a sermon

Dontcha love it when you ask a question and get a sermon?

Nicodemus was probably coming to talk theology with another rabbi. Instead of a nice intellectually stimulating theological conversation he gets a challenge to live a changed life.

He finds that Jesus is more than a teacher and Nicodemus needed to believe in more than signs and more than his religion. You see the Pharisees had constructed a system so precise that one didn’t really need God. He just needed to follow the laws, the rules, in order to be religious slash righteous. The Pharisees formed about 400 years before the opening of the NT. They decided that they need to make this Jewish religion something that could be practiced without a Jewish country or king since they lost all of that. So they constructed a system that could be followed whereever a Jew lived. They also accepted the prophetic writings as Scripture, something their Sadducee counterparts did not. The Pharisees are actually the open-minded ones of the day. They believed in miracles, angels, resurrection. The Sadduccees believed in none of the above, only the law, the first five books of the Bible.

Nicodemus has been living this lifestyle all of his life. He is so righteous, so squeaky clean, no one could find a thing wrong in his past to use against him. He could have run for president. He has worked hard to get to be where he is: one of the leading teachers of the Jews…and hear he finds this guy who has come from no where (Nazareth) and has flocks of followers and performs miracles! It’s like if you were a famous concert pianist and had worked all of your life to be the best and ran into a guy from the back woods who could play and charm audiences with no music training at all. How would you feel?

Nicodemus tells Jesus there is no way he could do what he does without God. A good observation…but see Nicodemus thinks Jesus is just a fine teacher. He doesn’t realize he’s sitting there talking to God himself. It didn’t even cross his mind.

Signs become quite the negative issue in John. Those who seek after signs have a serious lack of faith.
we think we have all the pieces put together and then we find someone like Jesus. He is unlearned, untrained and we have studied all of our lives to know the answers. How in the world does God use someone like him? And what about me?

If Nicodemus is not good enough for the kingdom of God, then who is?
It’s not enough. Then what is?
All of my righteousness is as filthy rags. It’s being born again. What in the world is that? You ask, like Nicodemus did. How can a person enter his mother’s womb and be born? Wesley said this of being born again, “Inwardly being changed from all sinfulness to all holiness.”

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