Part of a Life with Jesus
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John 3: 1-16 (NRSVA)
1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ 3 Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ 4 Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ 5 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ 9 Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ 10 Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 ‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
This familiar Bible passage is like a delayed release drug which has always more to pass into the bloodstream. ‘Believing in Jesus’ and being ‘born again’ are basic building blocks in the Christian life, but we meet with them often along the road. Like Jesus with his first disciples, we face the question, ‘Do you still believe?’ long after we have first met Jesus. Like Nicodemus with all his learning, we feel the mystery of the Spirit of God, and wonder which way God’s wind is blowing.
In today’s passage, faith leads to eternal life because Jesus will be lifted up (on the cross). That’s a bit of doctrine, of course, but it’s also a challenge, because Jesus calls us to come and die, share his crucifixion. On Monday we were sharing his resurrection, and you might think, that’s it, no more trouble – but sharing life with Jesus is not a quick fix, it is a lifelong pilgrimage, with highs and lows along the way.
God, we thank you for the gospel, the promise of life to those who believe. Help us to embrace this life in all its challenges, and like Nicodemus to bring our questions to Jesus.
We pray for those like John who try to pass on good news, by life and by lip, by laptop and literature, by film and phone and friendship. And we say thank you for the joy and privilege of life with Jesus Christ, and pray as he taught us, Our Father in heaven…
LENT FOCUS WEEK 2: PRAISE
This week we focus on ‘praise’, our human response to God. Reflect on different ways you could praise God this week, perhaps through music, art, writing, or nature. See if you can take time to consciously praise each day this week.