Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Jesus and Nicodemus

Read John 3

Who thinks that we are going to need to vote some people out of office before we see the Kingdom of God at work in our country?

Who thinks that we are going to have to put prayer back in school before we see the Kingdom of God in the here and now?

Who thinks that this quarantine business has to come to an end to see the Kingdom of God?

Who thinks that America will never see the Kingdom of God in a year with no baseball season?

Will we ever see the Kingdom of God?

A Pharisee named Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night.  I am required by an unidentified source to refer to this as Nic @ Nite.

Nicodemus begins by praising Jesus, acknowledging that he surely is a man of God.  The evidence is overwhelming.

Jesus doesn’t respond in polite conversation.  He gets down to business.  You think a little chit-chat between a Pharisee and a Rabbi whom the Pharisee deemed worthy of a personal visit would be in order.

Jesus tells him—and we need to be listening—that you can’t see the Kingdom of God unless you are born again.

Later, Jesus would say the same about entering the Kingdom of God, but he begins with seeing it.  To see the Kingdom of God you must be born again. 

He was talking to a Pharisee who knew much more than the average Torah-abiding Jew.  Pharisees knew the scripture inside-out.  Their daily lives were given to commenting on the finer points of the Law of Moses.  If anyone could see the Kingdom of God, it should have been the Pharisees.

Jesus sometimes referred to the Pharisees as the blind.  How could he do that?  They were experts in the written code, but missed the heart of God within it.  They were blind.  They could not see the Kingdom of God.

More study would not help.  Stricter obedience would not help.  Only being born again would help.

Nicodemus only comprehended birth into this world.  He struggled with birth into the Kingdom of God.  Not only could he not see it, he could not enter into it. 

To be fair to Nicodemus, I’m sure there would be very few people at that time who could comprehend being born again.  We would have likely thought like Nicodemus.  How can a man enter his mother’s womb again?

Jesus explained that flesh gives birth to flesh.  That’s the no-brainer and the stumbling block for Nicodemus.  But Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Jesus chastised Nicodemus a little.  He told him that he could recognize Jesus for who he was in spite of the physical evidence, which this Pharisee had acknowledged early in the conversation.  How could he ever comprehend the very Spirit of God. 

Only the Son of Man has been in heaven, but if we are born again, we can see and enter the Kingdom of God while we live in these temples of flesh.

People as a whole would struggle with this until Jesus was lifted up on the cross and died for our sins. He would rise from the dead and the Spirit would come to all who believed in him.

We have never lived on the other side of the cross.  We can’t really emphasize with a scholar such as Nicodemus or even the common person whose education was mainly the Torah.  We have never lived on that side of the cross.

But can we who know the whole story of God’s gift to us in Christ Jesus, see the Kingdom of God?  Have we entered the Kingdom of God?

Paul would say that it’s as if we are looking into a dark glass.  Our vision is not a keen as we would like it to be.  He would also say that eye has not seen and ear has not heard what the Lord God has in store for us.

But we do have the good deposit of God’s own Spirit.  So can we see this kingdom and enter into it?

I say that we can.

When the world sees someone as broken and damaged, we see the image of God.

When the world demands restitution or reparations, we long for reconciliation.

When the world sees worthless, we still see God’s masterpiece.

When people are hungry, we feed them.

When people are ignorant, we teach them.

When people don’t like us, we love them.

When people are lonely, we don’t leave them alone.

When people have lost hope, we pray for them and with them and share our hope.

When the world seems dark, we bring light as Christ ordained us to be.

When the days seem mundane, we bring salt for we are this world’s seasoning.

When the world becomes so carnal, we invade it with God’s own Spirit.

Having been born again, we see and enter this Kingdom of God not by changing our geography, but by exchanging our heart of flesh for one of his Spirit.

The Kingdom is less of a destination on a cosmic map as it is having his eyes to see and ears to hear.

It’s less of a gated community and more of one where love crosses all boundaries.

You who are born again, see the Kingdom of God.

You who have been born of the Spirit, enter the Kingdom of God.

You who have received his testimony, declare him to be Lord and live in his kingdom.


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