Today’s reading is on Nicodemus in John 3:1-21.
Do you remember when you first wanted to give your life to Christ? For some of you, it may have been when you were a very young child, introduced to the Gospel by family. For some, it may have been first going off into the world on your own and discovering meaning in life through God. For others, maybe later in life, after experiencing many things, the decision to follow Christ made more and more sense. Either way, chances are it was not spontaneous. You most likely didn’t go your whole life without knowing a thing about God, then one day waking up and thinking “hey, you know what, I feel like devoting my life to Christ today.” It doesn’t really work that way – the decision comes naturally after beginning a personal relationship with God and His moving in your heart.
Enter Nicodemus, a Pharisee seated on the Sanhedrin, high council in charge of the law of Jerusalem. While Jesus is in Jerusalem, Nicodemus comes at night to ask the Messiah he’s heard of about who He is. Jesus gets right to the point and confronts him about how to enter the Kingdom of God. To Jews of this time, the idea of being “born again” is entirely new – they were part of God’s people simply because of their ancestry, entering into Heaven on merit of their heritage. But Jesus flips this idea on its head – entry to the Kingdom is not decided by who you were born to, but by who you give your life to instead.
Scripture makes sure we know the importance of baptism. In Acts 2, Peter says “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In Titus 3: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Through our spiritual death and rebirth, we declare ourselves dedicated to the Lord, renewed and saved through His grace. The most miraculous thing about it is anyone can choose to do so and give their life to Christ, Jewish or not. We can never predict how or when God moves in someone to make them want to decide this, but when he does, how could we do anything but fall to our knees and surrender to Him? The way Jesus explains why we would make this choice is surely one of the most known Scriptures for good reason. John 3:16-18 reads:
“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Nicodemus hears why we choose to cast off our old life and accept spiritual death and rebirth in God’s Kingdom – His love. God’s love is more sacrificial, enduring, and rewarding than any other. It is this love that sent Jesus to live among us, that sent Him to die on the cross, and now seats Him at the right hand of the Father. This same love will always be, from now until the end of time. This love is available to anyone – those who have not yet believed but are moved by the Spirit will always be welcome in God’s loving arms. Someone today needs the news of this loving God, who will always love and never forsake those who trust Him: share this good news today with me. The world needs love now more than ever, and only God can provide the love we need for all.