“God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.” (Verse 17.)
There is a statement that one would hear quite often in the Courts of the Church of Scotland – Kirk Sessions, Presbyteries, the General Assembly: It is this: “Questions are always in order.”
Of course there are different kinds of Questions! There are leading questions the answer to which opens up the way for supplementary questions, there are loaded questions that are designed to wrong foot the person answering the question, or to embarrass the person being questioned. And of course there are genuine questions seeking clarification or to shed light on a matter. We only have to listen to questions asked by some politicians to find examples of all these kinds of questions.
At the beginning of Chapter 3 of John’s Gospel there is an account of an occasion when a man called Nicodemus came to Jesus with a question! Now, Nicodemus was a Pharisee and held an important position as a ruler in the Sanhedrin – the Supreme Court consisting of 70 members. He may well have come from a distinguished family. The Pharisees majored on the law and undertook to make an in-depth study of God’s law (the Old Testament), and they taught that every detail of the “Law” must be strictly observed and adhered to.
At different times some Christian Churches have also been like that- reading and applying every minute part of the Scriptures but in the process squeezing out the grace and the love of Jesus.
Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. Some have said that was so that he would not be seen by other members of the Sanhedrin, but in fact he became a defender of Jesus, and after Jesus’ death it was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who took Jesus’ body for burial.
The Impossible Answer?
Nicodemus said: “Teacher, we know you are teacher sent from God, because no one can do the miracles you do unless God is with him,” to which Jesus replied “unless a person is born again, they cannot enter God’s Kingdom.” What? No wonder Nicodemus said “if a person is already old, how can he be born again?” It was a fair question. Jesus’ response was that unless a person was born from water and the Spirit they cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Human life comes from human parents, but spiritual life comes from the Spirit. Jesus told of both the mystery and the energy of the Spirit. He described the Spirit like the wind that blows where it wants to and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it is going.
Nicodemus asked how this could happen and Jesus said: ‘Nicodemus, you are an important teacher in Israel, and you don’t understand these things? You see at this point Nicodemus had studied the Law (Pentateuch) but had not gone on to consideration of what the Scriptures were pointing to. Their fulfilment comes in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.
Jesus upbraided Nicodemus really when He said to him: “I have told you about things here on earth, and you do not believe me. So you will not believe me if I tell you about things of heaven.
The only one who has ever gone up to heaven is the one who came down from heaven – the Son of Man. What greater authority can there be? What more reliable witness? Do we believe it?
The Spirit lives to set us free – the Holy Trinity
Questions are always in order, but the time comes when we have to decide whether or not we believe the answers that we are given. We will find the answers and the proof in the pages of the Gospels, in the Words of Jesus and in the strength of the Holy Spirit. These answers may come in a huge variety of ways, including through the words of Christian family members and friends.
Remember to those who are perishing this is foolishness, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God. That power is exercised through the Trinity – which is something of a mystery!
ABBA FATHER WE ARE YOURS!
Rev. Bob Anderson Minister
Reading – John 3:1-17
John 3:1-17New International VersionJesus Teaches Nicodemus3 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.[a]” 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[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] 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.”[d] 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 toyou 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.[e]14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f]15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g] 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.