Born Again (Post 2)
Sermon reflection by Sheryl Yeo
After seeing what Jesus did, from the miraculous signs to his rage at the temple, Nicodemus was confused. There was a vast difference in both actions. Here, we see Nicodemus questioning who Jesus is and deciding to go to Jesus for answers. This passage starts off with reminding us of how people knew who Jesus was but did not entrust their lives to Him. Are we somehow similar? It was probably a yes for Nicodemus, he knew Jesus was sent from God, but denied the authority He had. Being a teacher of the law and part of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus was a man who knew the law very well. However, He wasn’t able to grasp what Jesus was talking about.
The conversation with Jesus reveals how we can born again from above, and He emphasizes that it is through water and spirit. This miraculous birth needs to take place before we can see the Kingdom of God. But how can we see or experience what these blessings are? To be born again means to look to Jesus, to trust Him and be filled with the Holy Spirit. In Ezekiel 36 and 37, God promises to sprinkle clean water and cleanse us from our sin. He also promises to give His people a new heart and spirit, which takes place when God places His Spirit within us. The result would be a new creation, someone dedicated to God. Also, life comes like wind, it’s not about how hard we work, but heaven coming down.
We all know Jesus came and lived a sinless life, and died as a sacrifice on the cross. In verse 14, Jesus mentions the bronze snake which Moses lifted up and commanded the Israelites to turn to for healing. Being a teacher of the law, I’m sure Nicodemus was very sure of what Jesus was talking about. This illustration reminds me of how we are affected by the poison of the serpent. It is only when we look to Jesus on the cross, we are forgiven and have eternal life. And that’s the remedy.
The illustration of ‘looking that makes you want to follow’: There are two scenarios, performance and looking. For performance, it was more of earning approval, being at the top of the bell curve and avoiding punishment. Looking was more of looking to see God’s love and have your heart changed. There’s a way to tell the difference. Performance is more of pushing others down to make themselves look better, like the previous sermon, where the temple was converted to a house of trade; where self-satisfaction overtook self-sacrifice and made it difficult for others to come to God. Looking is not so much about how they speak about God, but about how they view others. In Galatians, Paul writes about the remedy: crucifixion.
By God’s grace, we’re able to know of God’s love and are called His children. Restoration and eternal life are a result of looking at Jesus. Through this conversation with Jesus, Nicodemus was challenged to turn to Jesus like the Israelites turning to the bronze snake for healing. Later in John 7, he becomes braver and stands up for Jesus and later on publicly buries Jesus. He must have seen something and realised that his reputation no longer mattered.