Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lent 2: Nicodemus

Today's readings were Psalm 121, Genesis 12:1-9, Romans 4:1-8 + 13-17, and John 3:1-17 (the sermon text).
There is no halfway with Jesus, as Nicodemus mistakenly hoped. All depends solely on God's grace.

Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus' miracles but not His full divinity. He came at night because he feared persecution by fellow Pharisees, political zealots as well as the ruling religious party (analogous to today's Democratic party in terms of ideals). The conversation that night seems almost like two monologues--natural religion ("must! appease! God!") versus true religion (we are dead and blind in our sin; only God can save us from it by His own grace). Nicodemus took the words "born again" differently than we do now. His reply was exactly what Jesus wanted; it clearly shows that coming to God by oneself is utterly impossible.

How do we come? God draws us "by water and the Spirit" (only one "of" --> the two are connected), i.e. Baptism. We don't know how it works; God does. Rejoice in this salvation that comes to us without our decision! Yet Nicodemus didn't understand even the earthly analogy about wind. He did, however, end up believing in Christ--read about his role after the Crucifixion. Realize that Jesus is your Savior--and you have eternal life.

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