This is just the beginning--not the destination

by Scott Vance on August 29, 2023

John 3:1-15 (ESV)
You Must Be Born Again
3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."  4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  7  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'  8  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, 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 the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?  11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  14 And 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.
Choices; Our lives are often cast in the light of big choices that we’ve made which we believe determined the direction of our lives.  We talk about that moment we made a big choice to be committed to a specific career, to be married, the decision regarding what school to attend, where to live, which job to hold, to start a family, when to retire (if ever), and so much more.  All of those are big choices.
However, the reality is that those big choices are the result of hundreds of little choices that we make each day.
All those little choices build and shape our character and ultimately help us when the time comes to make some bigger choices in our lives.
Our passage this morning is about making a choice when it comes to Jesus, and it’s a fantastic passage for us to consider when it comes to entrusting Jesus with our lives.
I love this encounter with Nicodemus and how he is seeking Jesus out.  Nicodemus is one of the leading religious leaders, part of the Sanhedrin which was the Jewish ruling body.  He is curious about Jesus and wants to meet Him, but Nicodemus also understands how that might look, so he goes to meet Jesus at night to avoid being seen. 
As we follow the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus, it's clear that Nicodemus just doesn't get what Jesus is telling him about being born again.  Nicodemus is focused on the physical reality of the old way of doing things.  Nicodemus came to Jesus trying to figure out who Jesus is, what Jesus is all about, and whether Jesus is aligned with his group (the established religious leaders), but in coming to Jesus Nicodemus gets a whole lot more.
Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God and being born again, and that all who entrust their lives to Him will have eternal life.  Those that do will not only see the kingdom of God, they will be a citizen of this kingdom. Without Jesus, a person won’t even be able to glimpse this kingdom.
But don’t take that as exclusionary.  The point Jesus is making is that in Him something new has come; through Him, the kingdom of God is now wide open to everyone who will come.
Nicodemus is baffled by all of this and baffled by Jesus.  Nicodemus has been trying to figure out who Jesus is and how Jesus fits within the old system, but Jesus has just told Nicodemus that the old way of sorting and separating people is finished.  God is doing a new thing and it will not be contained or defined by the old system.
However, we shouldn’t be disheartened for Nicodemus in his encounter with Jesus.  This is just a first step as Nicodemus literally, and symbolically, takes a step from the darkness into the light (remember Jesus is the Light of the World—John 1).  Without a doubt, Nicodemus is humbled by his conversation with Jesus, but this is the beginning of a great process for him, and we're going to see the result of his journey at the end of John’s Gospel (spoiler—good stuff!).
Seeing the beginning of Nicodemus’ journey makes me think about this process of growing up in faith.
There is always a beginning, and then at some point, we entrust our lives to Jesus and follow Him.
But that’s not the finish line, it’s just the beginning of our journey with Jesus.  A long slow walk of love with Him (is there any other pace to real love?).
Paul said that we are to “work out our salvation" (Philippians 2:12) which is to say we have our part to do as we pursue knowing, loving, and following Jesus.  Nicodemus is just getting started.  You can't meet Jesus and walk away unchallenged and unchanged.
What about you?  What are you doing to know Jesus more and pursue Him with all that you are?  Are you ready for the challenge and change that comes with knowing Jesus?
God bless you and know that I’m praying for you constantly.


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