The following video was inspired by the notes below it.
In the last week, I witnessed a moment in which someone very much like Nicodemus in today’s text had a moment in which they saw beyond their position of privilege and power to recognize that something they cared about was harmful to their brothers and sisters, and rather than continue to embrace it, they chose to remove it from the equation. I am referring to the courageous stance taken by the Republican leadership in South Carolina to pass a bill removing the Confederate Flag from being flown at public buildings in their state. In the face of death threats, a group of people chose to obey God’s call to remove anything in our lives that could lead others into sin. The Governor of that state signed the bill, and the flag, which was re-flown in the 1950s in protest of the Civil Rights movement, was removed to be placed in a relic room. It is not an easy thing to find that we might be blind, and in today’s text we get to see just how hard it really is to overcome our positions in life to see with God’s eyes.
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.” John 3:1-15
- There was a Pharisee. Who were the Pharisees and what did they believe?
- Came to Jesus in secret. Position of power comes with fear of loss.
- A private acknowledgement.
- Taking things way too literally.
- The wind of the Spirit blows where it pleases, not where we think it should. Acts controversy with Gentile membership.
- Power blindness. Power has difficulty seeing things that would challenge or destroy its supporting structure.
- If we are to believe what Jesus says about spiritual realities we must first believe what he says about earthly realities. The gentiles have their lords…
- The heavenly singularity and the despised savior.
- Jesus words speak as clearly to us today as they did to Nicodemus, we must accept Jesus’ teaching about the deadly nature of human priority systems in order to be born anew into God’s eternal life. To be born of the Spirit is to accept Jesus as our new head honcho and follow his commands above all others’.
- Every one of us has blinders that come from our position in life, and it is in our submission to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit that our blinders can be removed. Join me in praying for the Holy Spirit to fall freshly upon us, to remove whatever blinders keep us from seeing God’s will, and to bind us together as one body dedicated to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us pray.