SERMON OF THE WEEK
January 27, 2013
Next Sunday is the 3rd Sunday after the baptism of our Lord. Gospel reading is from John 3:1-12.
Theme: Jesus teaches Nichodemus: "Turn Religion into a Relationship"
Gospel Reading: (John 3:1-12)
"1 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
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
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, You[c] must be born again.
8 The windblows 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 to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? "
Message: In today's gospel, we come across a person who had great difficulty in understanding the grace of salvation. His name is Nicodemus. Hes was a very religious man who had a hard time realizing the relationship between religion and relationship.
It was at night that the ruler of Jews, Nicodemus, paid the teacher Jesus a visit. There has been a lot of speculation as to why he came at night: (1) to avoid the crowd, (2) their conversation would not be limited, or (3) feared being seen with Jesus.
It must be said up front that NIcodemus was no ordinaary citizen. He was rich, respected and relgious. As a Pharisee, he gave his life to studying and obeying the law as well as Jewish traditions. He had great respect and interest in Jesus. He addressed Jesus as "Rabbi" shows great admirartion for Jesus. Nicodemus makes Jesus an equal. He even recognizes Jesus' ministry as blessed by God. "No one can do these signs unless God is with him, " he asserts. He acknowledges the divine blessings of God upon Jesus. Nicodemus falls into the category of believers decribed at the end of chapter 2, strictly because of morals. He is an admirer but not a genine believer.
Jesus knew Nicodemus' heart. Jesus cuts straight to the heart of the matter, "I tell you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again." Jesus tells Nicodemus, "If you want to enter the Kingdom of God, you must be born again."
Born again is a spiritual event best translated as born from above. It is a spiritual new birth, a divine regeneration, a spiritual transformation. To be born again means to be made new again
by the Spritit of God.
Jesus explained further, "Nicodemus, I am speaking of a spiritual rebirth. Unless one is born of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Jesus follows this by saying that which is born of the flesh is fleshy. You must be born in the spirit to go to Heaven. Born again is a personal relationsip with God. It comes only through our savior. It is relationship based. It is not how religious we are, but how we relate to God.
Jesus said, "I am not talking about physical things, I am talking about spiritual things. Of course, you need to be born physically, but you also need to be born spiritually. The Spirit gives birth to Spirit. All of Nicodemus credentials: disciplined life, religious life, able, learned, great morals - they are not good enough unless you can spiritually be born again.
Jesus again said to him,"If you wish to inherit the Kingdom of God, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, you will have treasure in Heaven and then come and follow me."
Although disappointed at first when he left the conversation with Jesus, Nicodemus later was able to live a breakaway life. He broke from position, his power as a Pharisee, and became identified himself as a child of God through belief in Jesus.
In chapter 7:45-52, apostle St.John tells us that Nicodemus is one of the men who apprached Pontius Pilate and asked for Jesus body so that it might be buried properly. And so this man who had received life, a true life, now wraps , anoints, and buries the body of the man who had
exposed his false life.
Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil