Being Born Again

Life Notes—March 17, 2011

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  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.”  Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”  John 3:1-3 

.Nicodemus is an interesting character.  He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the group of 70 or so Jewish priests who made up the ruling religious council of the day.  For the most part the Sanhedrin opposed Jesus at every opportunity.  Ultimately, they turned him over to the Roman authorities for crucifixion.  They publicly accused him of blasphemy, of violating all manner of Jewish laws and of misleading his followers.  But Nicodemus was conflicted.  In the passage above he approaches Jesus at night to get a better grasp.  Nicodemus risked his standing with the Sanhedrin by being with Jesus at all.  But this night, in private, he questions Jesus about being born again.  I picture Nicodemus as being desperately torn between knowing Jesus likely was the Messiah, yet not wanting to fall prey to a foolish hoax.  In the end, however, Nicodemus assisted with the preparations for Christ’s burial (John 19:39).  The conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus on this night is worthy of our contemplation (John 3:1-17). 

If someone credibly claiming to be the Messiah were in Lawrence today, I would probably approach them much like Nicodemus approached Jesus.  I wouldn’t approach in the light of day for fear of being seen.  I wouldn’t approach with others around for fear of being accused of being a follower.  I would be curious, but I wouldn’t want to risk the socio-economic status I’d spent my life building, at least until I was certain they were who they said they were.  I would probably want to know others of my “kind” were accepting this Messiah before deciding to join them. 

Much is made of being “born again” in Protestant circles.  Some people can name a day and time they became “saved.”  For others, it is a gradual process.  For some, it is a curiosity they ponder and cautiously watch for in others.  But for all, it requires allowing one life to die so another can live.  Jesus tells us we must let go of our old life before the new one can begin.  The new life in Christ is not free, however.  Its price is our old life, where we rely on ourselves and live as if there is no tomorrow and as if we have no neighbors. 

This Sunday Tom is preaching downtown and Mitch will be west.  Their sermon is “Cultivating Fruitfulness: Passionate Worship.”  This will be the second in the all-church Lenten series.  Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall, traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to worship this Sunday. 

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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