Sermon: And How Do You Do That, Part II Text

Sermon: And How Do You Do That, Part II Text -

0 downloads 126 Views 266KB Size

Sermon: And How Do You Do That, Part II Text: John 3:1-17 Date: June 10th, 2012 – Second Sunday after Pentecost. Sometime last week overheard a conversation between two people who were in church at Pittpres last Sunday, June 3rd. If you recall, we listened in on the first part of a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member the ruling counsel. One said: Boy, Nicodemus came to Jesus night, I wouldn’t blame him though. He stood to lose a lot. After all, he was a person of prestige, position and power. And the other said: It’s a good thing we are not big shots. We don’t have those kinds of problems. [ At that point his phone rang] Hello!!, Hello, this is God… yeah right. Oh seriously… check your caller i.d. { So he checked it and sure enough it said “GOD”} Who is this??? This is God, I called to say that I’m the judge, not you. And if you think the powerful and privileged are the only ones who have difficulty coming to me, think again. [And the phone went dead]. A reading from John 3:1-17…. The word of God for the people of God, Thanks be to God. Nicodemus heard an answer to a question that he did not exactly get around to asking: Jesus replied: “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from anew, from above”. What in the world does that mean? And how do you do that? To be born again is a term that is thrown about a great deal in our time. For some, it has become a kind of spiritual ranking with which other people can be bulled or looked down upon. Isn’t it sad??? How we take the gifts of God and use them to abuse each other. Born again, so often has come to mean a kind of better than thou attitude, in which one sees herself as especially favored by God. Standing in line at A @W restaurant in Tulsa, only a few months ago my attention was arrested by a few people who came in. These were having a good time, laughing, joking, just seemed like they were glad to be there. It may have been a youth group, I don’t really know. What caught my eye was the inscription on the t-shirt of one of the girls. She must have been 15 or 16. The shirt was kind of peach color with the inscription in bold while. I took a second look before elbowing the person I was traveling with to take a look. His eye browse went up and he simply sighed. What was written on the t-shirt? “Jesus loves you, but I’m his

favorite”. This is what born again has come to mean. Is it any wonder so many people don’t want anything to do with that notion? And yet, Jesus told Nicodemus that if what you want is to be part of God’s Kingdom, you cannot do without being born anew or again from above. And How do you do that? To begin with, every single one of us was born, one way or the other. This is how we became part of the kingdom or (space) of this world. In the same way, Jesus is saying that to become part of of the Kingdom of God (God’s space) you must be born anew from above into it. Well, how do you do that? There is a certain mystery about all this. He says, the wind blows, you hear it, you may experience it’s effects but you don’t know where it come from and where it is going. This is how it is with being born anew from above. The spirit blows and some accept Christ while others don’t but no one can explain just when or even how it all happens or why one person accepts the good news and another does not. There is mystery there. Well, how can that be? Back in the days of the 40 year journey through the wilderness, the Hebrew people perfected a very annoying habit. The habit of murmuring…. It didn’t matter what God did, they always had a complaint and they would pout and threaten Moses, their leader, and accuse God of brining them out of slavery in Egypt only to kill them in the wilderness. And some would even say… gee, how I miss Egypt, the flesh pots, the stew, fresh water… sure we were slaves but at least we had a roof over our heads. Why don’t we just go back? And they would murmur and complain. They could not imagine what awaited them. They only knew of what they have left behind which seemed much better than life in the wilderness, so they murmured… complained. One day they were complaining and God decided to send poisonous serpents among them. And as they hoped and yelped and scattered, many were bitten and died. Some of the Hebrew people came to Moses and said: please pray for us. We have sinned against God. We spoke against God and you. Would you talk to God for us. And so Moses did and God told him to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a poll in the camp. So that everyone who is bitten may simply look at the bronze serpent and live. All they had to do was look at the bronze serpent. I would imagine any normal person would do all they can to avoid being bitten in the first place but failing that, lying down there and writhing in pain, all they had to do was look at the bronze serpent. It was a helpless act of trust. I can’t escape the snakes, I can’t do anything about the poison that is racing to my heart but if can just look at that bronze serpent Moses lifted up on a pole, I will live. And they did. Still trying explain what it means to be born anew from above, Jesus says… just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, the son of man (Jesus) MUST be lifted up, so that (purpose clause) anyone who believes in him may have eternal life. Just as helpless people in pain simply looked at that bronze serpent on the pool and lived, the Son of Man must be lifted up among people who are bitten and being bitten by all sorts of challenging situations. So that if they would just look and trust, they my live. They may have eternal life. Of course, the eternal life Jesus is talking about is not waiting to die to go to heaven, to live for ever. It is much more immediate. He is talking about being born anew from above by the spirit so that the spirit is alive in us right now and our lives are meaningful and grounded in

God’s purposes. All you have to do is look at Jesus, lifted up, you will have have eternal life, be part of the kingdom of God. Some of you have already guessed that the lifting up of Jesus is the crucifixion. On the cross, Jesus is lifted up in ultimate humiliation and yet, that is the path God chose for life to come to those who would look and trust. The cross is only one part of the Lifting up of Jesus, however. His resurrection from the Tomb is in a sense God lifting Jesus up and vindicating him after all that he went through. That he in fact, is what he claimed to be. There is also his eventual ascension to his Father, when he was quite literally lifted up beyond the view of the disciples who looked on as their master disappeared into the clouds. You see, it is only after Jesus is lifted up to his Father’s side that the Father sends the Holy Spirit and my friends, the Holy Spirit is the source of new birth from above. And how do you do that? Well, the question itself suggest that we don’t yet get it. We don’t do it. The Holy Spirit does it. It is a gift of grace freely given to helpless people who have reached the end of their ropes and have finally admitted that God alone is able save them life from the poisonous snake bites. These people are willing to simply look and trust. It is helpless act of trust. Getting back to our friend, Nicodemus…. Whatever happened to him. Did he become born again from above? Did he step into the light of day? Did he continue to dwell in darkness? Remember, that God is the only judge. God is the only one who knows what is going on in the hearts of people. So we don’t really know for sure. What we can do is to look at the life of a person in search of some evidence, some fruit the work of the Spirit… In the case of Nicodemus, he shows up two more times in the life of Jesus. Being a member of the ruling counsel he was there was Jesus was brought in to tried, following his betrayal and arrest. And there, among all his colleagues, Nicodemus stood up and asked: Is it lawful to condemn a man before he is tried?” They did not like what he had to say. In fact, some insulted him. Then when Jesus was lifted up on the cross on that Friday and finally died, Nicodemus was there, in broad day light, helping to take him down from the cross and arrange for his burial. Do you think you ever stepped into the light? More importantly, what will you do? What is your decision? Are you helpless enough to look and trust and live or are you wanting to outran the snakes in your life under your own power?