Sometimes what we need isn’t what we we’re looking for. A Pharisee named Nicodemus learned just that when he went to see Jesus. Little did he know about the impact their conversation would have for generations to come. Nicodemus first acknowledges Jesus as a man of God, but how does Jesus regard Nicodemus? Ironically, he is tge first person Jesus tells to be born again, despite his religious standing. Jesus isn’t impressed by religiousness and knows exactly what we need. Explore how Jesus shows that we don’t need to be better, but to be made new.
And as you’re as you’re taking a seat, let’s pray together. Lord, we come before you, because as the song says, Lord, you are the only thing we can build our lives on. We can be confident that it will stand the test of time that it will stand the test of the storms of our lives, that it will stand the test of difficult economic situations and relational situations and difficult, Lord, in our workplaces and with our families and with our spouses. Lord, we don’t put our hope in those things because we know that those things crumble and fall. But, Lord, we’re here today as a reminder that we put our hope in you because we believe that you are a strong foundation.
With you, we build our lives on the rock and with your teachings, we build our lives on something that’s not just going to fall down at the first sign of trouble, God. And so we thank you that we have an author of our faith. We thank you that we have hope in you. We thank you that we have Jesus. We thank you that we have Your Holy Spirit that guides us.
God and I just ask you today that you would just help us, Lord, that you would help us to push away the difficulties, push away the confusions, push away maybe the anger, push away the fear that we have, push away the things that cloud our judgment. And let us just listen to your word. Let us be moved by your Spirit and let us recommit to what it means to be a follower of you, Dad, we love you. We praise you.
We thank you for this morning. In Jesus name, Amen. Thank you. Thank you, guys. Amen.
I have a couple of things to share before we dive into the lesson. The first thing is I heard last night there was an amazing singles Ministry event where our single brothers were incredibly kind to our single sisters. And so I want to give just a huge hand to them, to our brothers for all their work. And before we jump into the text, I have a couple of other things to mention. The first thing is kind of a staffing issue or a staffing thing. Joy Garcia, who has been working with our singles Ministry and doing an amazing job for the last year or so, is going to be moving back to Kansas, back home to Kansas. And we are so blessed to have her service. And so I just want to give her a huge hand.
So people started asking, well, man, then what’s going to happen with our singles leadership? And we said, you know what? We have a perfect person in Emily Vogel, who’s been on staff here. So she’s moving into the singles. And then there was the question, what’s going to be happening with our teens since Emily’s moving away from our teenagers?
And so Brittany Philippelli, who has been serving in the campus is going to help in the teens. Anyway, we’re excited about all that. So please, if you can pray for Joy, pray for Emily, pray for Brittany as they embark on a new adventure, as they take on new challenges. I’m just so blessed to have these amazing women on staff, and they work so hard for our Church and for the ministries that they’re a part of. Amen.
With all that out of the way, let’s get into John chapter three. That’s our text for today. You could turn there with me today. We’re going to continue our walk through the Ministry of Jesus. And if you see me and I’m kind of like Hobbling a little bit, it’s because in the spirit of the Super Bowl, last Sunday, I went out to go play some football, and about 3 seconds into the game, I pulled my hamstring.
Yes. I don’t want to talk too much about this because I’m not feeling great. Anyway, we are in John chapter three. John, chapter three. Amen.
Go bangles. All right, here we go. This is where we’ve been so far. This is a map. This map has been kind of our interactive, sort of helping us understand where we are.
This is the land of Israel in Jesus’time. Last time we talked, Jesus had, I don’t think my clicker is working. Last time we talked, Jesus had left this upper part of Israel down to the Jordan River Basin, and he went up to Jerusalem, and there he is in Jerusalem, and that’s where he’s going to be also today. So last week or two weeks ago, we saw him up in Cana. Now he’s down in Jerusalem, and we continue to see him there.
As you might remember, the story so far has taken us to Jesus baptism. And then Jesus, after he’s baptized, is pushed by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days and 40 nights by Satan himself. After Jesus conquers that temptation, he makes his way back to the Jordan River where he calls his first disciples. Or I guess they sort of follow him after John talks about him, we meet John and Andrew and Philip and Simon and Nathaniel.
And then we go to the wedding in Cana where Jesus does his very first public Ministry or public miracle, I apologize. And after that, he makes his way to Jerusalem. And this is the first year of Jesus Ministry. This is the first time he’s in Jerusalem as sort of publicly open about who he is.
And what we’re reading here is only found in John’s account of the Gospels. John, chapter two, John, chapter three, John chapter four are only in John’s Gospels. Those stories aren’t repeated anywhere else in the New Testament. And so we’re spending our time there. Remember last week we saw Jesus clear out the temple.
He makes a whip. He pushes out all the cattle, all of the doves. He flips over the money changers he’s attacking at that time the greed of the community, but also just the structure of the temple system. And so at the end of the account, some of the Jews questioned him. We read that last week, and they go, hey, what authority do you have to do all of this?
They’re intrigued by Jesus, but as we will find out today, they’re also a little bit threatened by Jesus. It’s been a busy week, right? His first week of public Ministry. This account, again, we read that there are numerous miracles that Jesus does, that’s John, chapter two, verse 23. Many believed in him because they saw the signs that he did.
And so what we’re reading today comes on the heels of that first temple flipping or that first temple clearing out and all those miracles. Perhaps this is later in that same week during the feast of the Unleavened bread. But here, all those people were intrigued by Jesus. Again, some were threatened by Jesus. And then one of the Pharisees makes their way into an account or into an interaction with Jesus himself.
This is John, chapter three. We’re going to start in verse one. Now, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus is the man we’re introduced to today, and he is called a Pharisee. A Pharisee.
This is Jesus’ first meeting with the Pharisee. And throughout the Ministry of Jesus, he will talk to the Pharisees a lot. Pharisees. This group of people are talked about 88 times in the New Testament. The root meaning of the word Pharisee is unclear.
We don’t exactly understand, but we think it comes from a Hebrew word which means to separate or to detach. So you might say, well, okay, so what’s a Pharisee then? Well, the Pharisee is someone who separated himself from others. Well, from who did he separated himself well, primarily from the people who interpreted the law differently than he did.
We find out in John, chapter seven that he separated himself from the commoners. We also read that he certainly separated themselves from both Gentiles and Jews who followed a Hellenistic culture. They separated themselves from the political groups. They separated themselves really from anybody who did not believe the things they believed about the Old Testament law. He was a Pharisee.
And certainly in the upcoming weeks, we’ll talk much more about Pharisees. But for right now, all you really need to know is that a Pharisee is a super religious guy. This is Mr. Nick. And Mr. Nick is incredibly religious. High moral authority. In terms of devotion to the scriptures, in terms of daily prayer, in terms of all the things that would make this man sort of a high level religious guy. He has them all. He’s also an older man. We find out later on. He’s a member of the religious elite, a member of the Jewish ruling Council, which means that he’s sort of like a congressman of the religious people.
So he’s so spiritual and so religious and has such high standard that he’s like, elevated above all the religious people as a perfect religious person. A good way to think about him would be like, he is an educated Bible teacher. He’s wealthy, probably, he’s mature. He’s like, another way to think about it is like an adjunct professor at a prestigious University teaching Bible. He’s a tenured writing books all day long.
That’s sort of what Nicodemus is. He has everything a religious person would ever want. And so the Bible tells us that this man comes to Jesus at night. You might think, well, does that really matter? Well, later on, we find out that people come to Jesus at night because they’re afraid of being seen with Jesus.
So here’s this really religious dude who makes his way and makes his way into the community where Jesus is around. He finds Jesus, he hangs out with him, and he goes there at night. And then this is what it says.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him, Rabbi, which means, Teacher, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform the signs that you are doing if God were not with him. The impression given to us is that Nicodemus is speaking on behalf of a larger Council. He says, hey, we know, meaning, like, we have come here, I have come here as a representative of this larger Jewish Council. And we know that what you’re doing, you couldn’t do on your own.
We know that you’re probably from God. No one could perform the signs that you are doing. And so what’s he there to do? Well, we don’t exactly know, but this feels like the set up of a question. I read one commentator that said the cadence of this discussion feels like Nicodemus is setting up to ask Jesus a question. And we don’t know what he’s asking.
Maybe he’s going to make some backroom deal. Hey, join our group and we can take over the world. Maybe he’s going, well, did you really have to flip the tables? We don’t know what Nicodemus is going to ask, but maybe there’s something here, some sort of question that he’s about to ask. But before Nicodemus can say anything, Jesus cuts him off.
Jesus answered him. Answered him. He didn’t even ask a question. Jesus replied to him, truly, truly. I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
What does that have to do with anything that Nicodemus came to discuss? Jesus disregards Nicodemus completely and whatever he came to say and instead pivots the conversation to something about accessing the Kingdom of God. He says, Nicodemus, you want to see God? Be born again. you’ve heard this term before, right? Born again, born again Christian.
I’ve been born again. And see, this is amazing to me because when you think about being born again, what do you think about someone who is down and distraught and has realized that they’re in sin and they say, I need a new life in Jesus. That’s what a born again is. But it’s interesting to me because the very first person that Jesus ever tells to be born again is not some morally bankrupt adulterous person. Instead, it’s a religious guy.
So this must have hit Nicodemus in kind of a strange way, right? How are you telling me that I cannot see the Kingdom of God? You couldn’t have invented a more moral person. None of us could- like, we’re like, okay, there’s like, Nicodemus and there’s like, John Brush or something like that.
You don’t say in terms of people that you’re like. It’s just kind of weird, right? This is a man who knows all the rules, who does everything right, who has followed since the day he was probably born, taught in the synagogue. And what it tells me is something that’s critical for all of us, which is this: Jesus isn’t impressed with religiousness.
So he tells them, hey, I know you know all that stuff. I know you know the scriptures. Yeah, sure. Nicodemus, you need to be born again. How offensive is that?
Because what is he saying? You don’t need more religion in your life. What you need is actually a new life. You need to be born again. Jesus looks at this man who’s approaching Jesus, sort of protecting his reputation.
He came at night, he’s wearing a mask of religiousness. Jesus just sees through all of that stuff and says, hey, your life needs to start over. You need a new beginning. And if you think about it, it’s really an offensive thing to say to an older man. You were born wrong.
You were born. Yeah, but your life, you got to start again. Jesus is going to try to convince him that the life he has now is sort of a cheap imitation of what it’s supposed to be. He’s going to offer him a new life. You need to start again because what you value, what you know about faith, all your religious expression, all that stuff, it’s not good enough to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
And so here’s his response. Verse four. Nicodemus says, how can someone be born when they are old?
Nicodemus is not dumb. He’s an educated man. He understands this is not be born again like that way. Nicodemus asks, surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb and be born. Nicodemus, I don’t think misinterprets what Jesus is saying.
I think he just is trying to move the conversation deflect a little bit. But Jesus, as he always does, just ignores Nicodemus and just goes again. Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the spirit. First, jesus says, you cannot see the Kingdom of God. Now he says, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless you’re born of water and spirit.
Jesus attempts to make things clearer with Nicodemus by alluding to some Old Testament imagery that Nicodemus should have known. And certainly water and spirit can speak to the act of baptism. And I’m going to talk about that in future weeks. And this is super important, and I guess we’ll touch it a little bit. But really what we see here is more about this imagery of water and spirit.
And I want to talk about the imagery just for a little bit because this is what Jesus is trying to use to help Nicodemus understand the need for a new life. Water and spirit. This should have gotten Nicodemus’s attention because the prophets used these two illustrations of water and spirit all the time to talk about a day when God would send a savior to the world. Look at this. In Isaiah 44, verse three says, For I will pour water on a thirsty land and streams on the dry ground.
I will pour out my spirit on your offspring and my blessings on your descendant. God is saying that he’s going to pour water on a thirsty land and his Spirit on the offspring. This is an illustration, right? This is a moment of hope saying, hey, you live in a parched place. Your soul is a parched ground.
Your soul is in need of revival. You need a new life. You’re a dead place. And I’m going to pour out my spirit and water on this land and renew it. The passage actually goes on to say, they will spring up like grass in the Meadows, like popular, like Poplar trees, flowing streams by flowing streams.
Humanity. This passage is talking about humanity being a dry and parched place. It’s cracked the ground means watering. And so God’s promising in the future that his spirit is going to come. His spirit is going to come.
And so when Jesus says to Nicodemus, you need to be born again of water and spirit, he’s alluding to these things that Nicodemus knows. He knows. Look at this one. This is Exodus, chapter 36. I will sprinkle, I think it’s actually Ezekiel, chapter 36. I apologize. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. He says, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Then look at this last verse and I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees. This is the same illustration, right? It’s a parched land. Human beings are dried out, desolate, dead, hard, impure places. We need to be washed.
We need to be cleansed. We need a new spirit inside of us. Our hearts are stone. Our lives are impure. We need a new heart, a new spirit given to us by God.
And this is the picture. And this is the point that Jesus is trying to make to Nicodemus. Nicodemus, it may have looked like your life has been perfect because you tried to obey the law. It may look like your life is good because you do do all these religious things, but your heart is a heart of stone. You’re a parched soul.
You’re a thirsty land. You need a new way of living, a new way of thinking, a new way of feeling. You need a new life.
I want you also to notice something critical here. I really like The Chosen’s illustration of this discussion. I know I referenced that TV show twice and I don’t know all their I don’t want to talk too much about the chosen, but what I know is just that that moment is really great. Jesus is with Nicodemus in the upper room.
Nicodemus is talking to Jesus, and they’re just one on one, and they’re having this conversation. And what I just love about that moment is that Jesus is trying so hard to persuade Nicodemus that his religiousness is not enough to enter the Kingdom of heaven. And Nicodemus just can’t seem to get it.
It’s hard for religious people to realize that they don’t need more obedience to law, that they just need a different life. It’s hard. It’s hard. And I want you to notice that Jesus doesn’t say to Nicodemus, he’s not like your life is like a B plus, you’re 87% there. You’re moral, you’re religious, but sometimes you get mad at your kids.
So if you could just fix that, then things will be better. You could just come into the temple and say you’re Hail Mary’s and then things will be good. He doesn’t say that to him. He says your life is zero. It needs to start again.
Nicodemus, you’re a dead man walking. You’re not a good person. You’re not a decent human being. You don’t need. I’m just coming here to be a better person.
No, you don’t need to be a better person. You need to be a new person. And why do I think that this story is highlighted in the gospel is because I’m going to say this and don’t get offended. Nicodemus is better than you.
No matter how religious you are. Nicodemus is better. Nicodemus got it all right? He knew the law.
He’s better than you. John three is not just one, I think Jesus probably had these conversations with hundreds of people, but he’s showing us, look, if this guy can’t get it right by being religious, you can’t get it right by being religious. So what do you need then? If you can’t get it right by being religious?
And the goal isn’t just to come to Church a little bit more and to say more prayers and that be okay, then what is the goal? What’s the point? How do you then get closer to Jesus? Well, Jesus, or how do you get a new life? Well, Jesus is going to just break it down in such a brilliant way.
So stay with me because there’s some illustrations here that the first time I’ve studied it, maybe the second time I studied it was way over my head. But now I feel like I have a sense of a grasp of it that I could present to you. So here we go. Ready?
So verse six, flesh gives birth to flesh. Okay, remember that. But the spirit gives birth to the spirit. You should not be surprised at me saying you must be born again.
Some of you may have a little footnote in your Bible, and if you do, there’s a little C or something. You got to go down to the bottom. Does anybody want to call out what that footnote says? It says instead of again, there’s a little footnote there. Some of them I’m just going to say with this. Some of them say from above. Instead of born again it says from above. The word is anothen. Can you guys say that word? Thank you. Someone said no, they can’t say it. That works. Anothen. That’s the Greek word which is used there born again. It could also be born from above. So Anothen, new start or new source either way. So I’m confused because those two things don’t seem like they’re the same thing. Born from a different source or born again? Which is Jesus saying? Well, the Bible translators put the little footnote there because many commentators believe that Jesus is actually just saying both things because Jesus is amazing.
Above and a new start.
Humans are incredible. We’re made in the image of God, and so there’s so much good in us. But if we spend enough time thinking about the human race, no one will argue that there is something fundamentally flawed about us.
There is something fundamentally flawed about you. You might not think about it all the time, but I bet if you don’t think about the stuff wrong with you, you think about stuff wrong with other people, don’t you? There’s something wrong with human beings. Like, we’ve been on the planet for a really, really long time, and we’ve made some incredible strides. I watched Elon Musk, like, sending rocket ships by himself, basically into space.
That’s crazy. Technology, education. We have the most literate population we’ve ever had. It’s amazing. Mathematics, science.
We are incredible species. And yet we can’t solve the problems that have been around since day one. What day did we start killing each other, like Cain and Abel? That’s like way, way back. The first murder is like 50 years into our existence, and here we are, thousands and thousands of years later, and we still can’t stop killing each other.
People are killing people all the time. You turn on the news and people kill people. This has been going on since day one. And we throw everything at the problem, right? But our human species can’t seem to solve the problems that our human species made. Inequities. We can’t solve it. We’ve tried. War. You can’t stop it. America is trying again to start or not to start, but to get into another war. Genocide have been happening for centuries.
We set up one group of people. We consider them less than human, and then we enslave and kill them all. We’ve been doing that forever, and we can’t seem to stop it. All of our intelligence, we can’t seem to stop it. We can’t stop people hating each other, hating people of other races, hating people of other genders and classes and creeds.
We can’t stop people. And we say we need more education. We need more technology. We need more times. It’s been thousands of years.
You guys have been given enough time. You can’t solve any of these problems. There is still slavery in the world. Did you guys know this? Out in the east?
I read this week they believe they’re between their estimates, between 21 million 45 million people still trapped in one form or another of slavery today. Human trafficking, sex abuse, forced labor, bond service. A lot of the garment industry, you know, every time you buy a five dollar shirt, a lot of the stuff, I’m just letting you know, done by slave labor or the equivalent of it. We’ve tried to solve all of the world’s problems, and we are just spinning our wheels. We can’t solve the problems.
And the reason is, I said this, already, but we are fundamentally flawed. Think of your own life, right? How many times have you said, I’m not going to lie anymore, only to lie again. I’m not going to watch that on my computer anymore.
I’m done. Only to watch it again. I’m not going to get angry at my kids like that ever again, only to do it again. We can’t stop being self righteous. We can’t stop being proud.
We try. We just can’t stop because we’re flawed. Humans are morally compromised, and we have been compromised since day one. We aren’t very good. And the thing is, we just keep giving birth to it.
I have three kids. I love them, but they got problems.
They’re fundamentally flawed. They’re amazing. I love them. But flesh gives birth to flesh. It’s a cycle.
The person who used to lead this Church a long time ago, John Porter, many of you know him. His wife, Barbara Porter, said it should be illegal for you to have children. That was great. Yeah, because it just keeps happening. You’re evil. You produce more evil, and you just produce more evil. And you just produce more evil. So what is Jesus saying? Hey, what you need is not a man to have another child. That’s not what you need a woman to have another child.
What you need is a birth of a different source. Every time I talk about this subject, I use the exact same illustration. So sorry if you’ve already heard this, but I would like to make a point. Let’s talk about a mango tree. I have a mango tree in my backyard.
Love my mango tree. I have been trying for years to make that mango tree really fruitful. It is mildly fruitful, but whatever, it’s fine. But imagine one year I got like, the crop or the haul of the century. It was like, wow, I have 5 million mangoes.
And I pulled them all down and I was like, so excited. And I was like, I never need mangoes again because I’m sick of them. Next year, I would like my mango tree to make avocados.
And I worked really hard. I dove into the whole horticultural world. I read books. I worked with Dave Chauffe, who was a foliage guy. I learned I watered it differently, and I hit the stick or hit the trunk like some people tell me to do.
And I was faithful to trying to figure out how to work really hard. I fertilized it. Do you know what happened the next year? I would get mangoes. Do you know why?
Because it’s a mango tree. And mango trees produce mangoes. It doesn’t matter how hard you try. It doesn’t matter how good you get at producing mangoes or working on your it doesn’t matter how much you reform the tree. It doesn’t matter how much work you’ve done.
It doesn’t matter the time you’ve invested in it. You’re always going to get mangoes. And the reason is because it’s a mango tree. How do you get avocados? Well, you need a new source.
You need a new root system. What’s the point? You cannot refine the flesh. It’s evil, it’s impure, it’s unrighteous. You can’t have a mango tree produce avocados, and you can’t have the flesh produce righteousness.
It doesn’t work like that. And what is religion? Religion is adding righteous deeds to the flesh. Adorning it, making it look like it’s righteous.
But it’s not changing anything. Jesus, looking directly into the eyes of this righteous man or this religious man, says to him, you need to start again. You need to start again. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to the Spirit. You must not be surprised that I say, you must be born again.
Then Nicodemus responds. How can this be? Nicodemus asks. I love Jesus response. You are Israel’s teacher, said Jesus, and you do not understand these things.
You should know this. Have you read your Bible, Nicodemus? Have you read Jeremiah 31: 31? Have you read, you know this.
The flesh can’t give birth to the Spirit. It can’t happen. And then Jesus makes this amazing illustration. Bear with me as I explain. It’s just so cool. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
And then the next verse is probably the most popular Christian verse ever. John, chapter three, verse 16. Whoever believes in him, there’s that passage right, for God to love the world. We’re not going to even read that today. But that’s the heels of what’s talking about here.
And what people believe is that that is John the Apostle’s commentary on this discussion. John is amazed by what has happened. And so he writes that beautiful passage. But for now, let’s just talk about this first piece of verse 14. Jesus points again to an Old Testament illustration about snakes in the desert.
It’s a bizarre story. It’s in numbers chapter 21. We’re not going to read it right now, but you can read it on your own. But here’s a short synopsis of the story.
Here’s the TLDR for you. The people are on their way from Egypt to the promised land, and the Israelites continue to rule against God. They’re all against God over and over and over again. And this time God punishes them a whole bunch of different ways. But this particular time, God sends poisonous snakes into their camp.
It’s a crazy story. The Bible is weird. Just enjoy it. They’re biting the Israelites. Snakes are biting the Israelites and they’re all getting infected and they’re suffering.
And some people are even dying from the snake bites, of course, because they’re poisonous snakes. So God tells Moses, get a bunch of bronze, melt it all down, take the bronze and make the image of a snake. I want you to make the image of the snake that’s biting everybody. And so Moses does that. And then God tells Moses, hey, put it in the middle of the people.
Put it on a pole, raise it up so that everyone sees it, lifts it super high. And what’s going to happen is that when people look at the snake, they’re going to be healed. And you say the Bible is strange. And I understand this is a strange story. It’s a story about.
And so let me give you again, this is what’s the story about. The story is about people who are infected with a sickness connected to their sin, right? Their selfishness, their rebellion. But the very thing that’s killing them, the snake, is then transformed into the thing that brings them healing.
I tried to put it on a slide, but this is a bad slide, but just follow me. The thing that is killing them is transformed into the source of their healing. Does that make sense? You’re with me?
Okay. So if they would only look at it, hope in it, if they would sort of come to grips with this idea that this thing right, with this thing, then they’ll be healed. So why is Jesus telling them the story? Well, Jesus is the snake who will be lifted up. It’s a reference to the cross.
Jesus is God. But the Bible tells us something really interesting. In Second Corinthians chapter five, verse 21, all of us should have that passage memorized. God made him who had no sin to become sin. So what did God do?
He made Jesus into sin, the one sent into the world. He became the one to absorb into himself the collective effects and the collective consequences of our stupidity, of our selfishness, of our sin and of our evil, so that he could collect the contents of our sin, becoming sin himself, hoisted up on a cross that anybody who turns to him and believes in him and responds to him would be healed of the thing that was killing them. It’s pretty amazing, right? This story is incredible.
I mean, the gospel is amazing. So Nicodemus is asking, how can this happen? And Jesus simply says, how is one born of a new flesh? Let me tell you, you come to me. You come to me.
You hope in me. You trust in me. You don’t hope in your religious duty. You don’t hope in all those things that you thought were going to get you right before God. You don’t hope in those things.
You hope in me. You turn to me, you come to me, and you can have a new life. And how incredible is that? God’s love and his compassion is so great that he’s willing to make his son into the thing that was killing us so that we could be healed. Nicodemus, you’re sick, bud.
You’re infected with your own selfishness and your own status and your own sense of accomplishments and your own desires for approval. And you wear this religious mask and you think you’re a good person and you’re immersed in this whole religious system. But brother, you’re sick and you’re dying and you need a new life and you need a life that’s not going to come from just pruning the old life and watering your current life. You need to uproot all of it. Nicodemus, you need someone to save your life.
And if you turn to me, you’ll get a new life. I’m your teacher. You call me Rabbi, but you don’t need a teacher. You need a savior. There’s something, again, fundamentally flawed about you.
Church, this, in short, is the gospel message. The New Testament is packed with verses that say basically the same idea. You might remember the story of the rich young ruler. Jesus is like, go sell all your stuff and just come to me, get away from that old life and come to me. But what happens over and over and over and over and over again is that men and women choose death and despair instead of choosing him.
See, the condition of every human being, regardless of how good they think there are, is death and despair. And they don’t want a new life enough to really do what it takes to have a new life. And look, I don’t know where you are today, but I know that all of you and I need a savior. I don’t need to be more moral, I need Jesus. I need a new birth. I need a new life. And look for some of us, we made a decision a long time ago, so we’d be born again, to enter the waters of baptism, to repent of our sins, to be immersed and be lifted up and get a new life and all that. There’s others of us, and that’s great.
But I think some of us here need a recommitment. We’ve had two years of the pandemic where we haven’t been really spiritual. We’ve kind of pushed away our righteousness and instead embraced a religiousness, which is if I watch Church on Sunday morning, then that’s good enough. And I’m just saying, we need a savior. We need to repent.
We need to turn away from it. We need to come to grips with Jesus again. Some of us you’ve been studying the Bible for a long time. You’ve been looking at the scriptures, but you haven’t had the courage to take the step and be baptized. I want to encourage you to make a decision today, like right now, make a decision.
Give up your whole life, start anew, because you’re not going to get a different life if you keep with the same flesh that you’ve always had. You just add a little bit of Jesus. I want you to encourage you to start over, encourage you. Again, I mentioned this already. You don’t need a better life. You need a new one. There are others of us here today who have been in pursuit of rules to try to make us have so that we can have a better life. I want to encourage you. You don’t need a better life. You actually need a new one.
And so I want to invite you to the cross. And what does that look like? Well, I mean, I don’t know, right? We could all get on our knees and praise God. And certainly that would be helpful.
But what I think is probably more helpful is if you’re willing to make a decision, make a commitment. And so what I’m going to do is, in a second, we’re asking some of the elders to just come on up here in the front row here. They’ll be standing up. And if you feel like, look, I need a recommitment. I need a new life. I need to get baptized. I need to whatever, then whatever those things are, just let them know. Let them pray for you. At least you’re making a commitment. And if some of you are like, I need to get baptized, that’s cool.
There’s water right there. We also have a Lake. It’s also raining. I don’t know. That doesn’t count.
But look, I’m just saying, let’s go, let’s go. Let’s change the way we’ve been living. Let’s not just try to add more, but let’s start again. Let’s start anew. And I don’t want you if you’re courageous enough to come up, that’s a great step.
That’s a sign. Hey, I was bold enough to do this and so I want to invite you to do that. In just a second, the band will play some music. Everyone will be standing up so it’ll be no big deal. Elders, you can come on down.
Don’t let your religiousness get in the way of a real life. Don’t do it. Get life, get life, get life. So let’s pray together. We’ll sing a song.
I’ll come back and I’ll close this out for a communion time. Father, we come before you knowing that there are people in this room right now who need a new life. God, I know there are brothers and sisters in this room who have slipped into a series of sins that they don’t want to talk about. God, I pray that you can give them the courage to tell the truth. God, I pray that you can give them the courage to be honest about where they are in their lives.
There’s another group of people of us here today who are just wayward we thought we knew what we were doing. But maybe it has become clear to us that we just need a new life altogether. We need to respond in repentance and faith and baptism. God and I ask you today, Lord, that you would give those people the courage to do the same. God, we need something different.
We don’t need the same old life. God and I pray Jesus, that you would grant that for us. As we look at the cross, as we turn to you. As we look at you, the one who became sin for our sake. God that we would have a righteous life so that we could have a good life.
Lord, the Bible says that you exchanged our sin and you gave us righteousness. That can’t be done on our own effort. But that only comes by way of your son. God, we praise you. I ask you today that this moment will be a moment of change for our Church. In Jesus name.