Something To Experience

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John 3:1-21

As Jesus is talking to one of the religious leaders of his day, it becomes obvious to me that it is possible to be quite pious and still miss the experience of faith. Religious acts do not necessarily make religious people. It seems as though Nicodemus is trying to figure this all out as he spends some time with Jesus.

The invitation from Jesus to “see the kingdom of God” is an invitation to experience AND participate. It is stepping into this experience now, not just as some future destination. Nicodemus wants to know how to enter into this experience of the kingdom and when Jesus tells him he must be “born again,” he is utterly confused!

We have the benefit of reading this now and understanding that Jesus is speaking of a spiritual “rebirth” not a physical one. This means that our hopes of entrance through some sort of inherited goodness or good behavior are misguided. What we do and who we know, both to the positive and negative, won’t gain us entrance. The experience of the kingdom is not based upon one’s nationality or political affiliation, instead, it is about one’s repentance and spiritual rebirth.

This is only made possible by the love God has for the entire world. A love that is not static or self-centered but rather a love that is actively reaching out to draw others in. A love that brings a whole new way of thinking and living; you might even call it a sort of “rebirth.”

*You can find the message audio here.

Matt LipanComment