Day 56 | Thursday, May 14, 2020
A scripture reference we see posted a lot and many events is John 3:16. I understand why people love quoting this verse but I also know that it is important to read the other verses around this one to appreciate what was happening. Leading up to John 3:16 is this whole discussion with Nicodemus about new birth, which Nicodemus finds very confusing. I don’t think Nicodemus is the only one confused. There have been many discussions around the concept of new birth. The heart of the Gospel of John is “new life as God’s children through faith in Jesus’ person and mission.” “Seeing, or entering, the Kingdom of God requires a transformation comparable to a new birth.” (CEB 1335) Look at it as an inward change by God’s Spirit. For me, that is not a onetime experience. It is a continuing process. One of my most favorite quotes is “I am a Christian in the process of becoming” and it will take my lifetime. “To be born again from above means receiving life in the Spirit through the life-giving death of Jesus.” (CEB 1336)
Today I am quoting John 3:1-18 form The Message.
1 “There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews.
2 Late one night he visited Jesus and said, "Rabbi, we all know you're a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren't in on it."
3 Jesus said, "You're absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it's not possible to see what I'm pointing to - to God's kingdom."
4 "How can anyone," said Nicodemus, "be born who has already been born and grown up? You can't re-enter your mother's womb and be born again. What are you saying with this 'born-from-above' talk?"
5 Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation - the 'wind hovering over the water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life - it's not possible to enter God's kingdom.
6 When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch - the Spirit - and becomes a living spirit.
7 "So don't be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be 'born from above' - out of this world, so to speak.
8 You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God."
9 Nicodemus asked, "What do you mean by this? How does this happen?"
10 Jesus said, "You're a respected teacher of Israel and you don't know these basics?
11 Listen carefully. I'm speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions.
12 If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don't believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can't see, the things of God?
13 "No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man.
14 In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up -
15 and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.
16 "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
17 God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
18 Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”
Gracious God, we pray for your Spirit to continually work in us to keep us fresh in our faith journey. We thank you for our new birth in Jesus which has put us on our journey within your Love. Hear our prayers. Amen.
Today – pray for the children who are becoming ill.