Today we’re taking a look at Nicodemus, a Jewish leader who sought Jesus in secret. Oh friends, I encourage you to come to the light, accept Jesus’ forgiveness and love, and be born again. Jesus’ sacrifice was for you and for me, bringing great joy to the world. It’s available to you right now.
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Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
That is a strong promise straight out of James chapter four, verse eight. Hi, it’s the Bible for Busy People. I’m Erica, your host, and just delighted to be studying God’s word with you today. This is a love letter from the living God to you, and to me, and I think he really appreciates it when we take the time to read it. Imagine if you wrote a love letter and it never got read. Think of how you and I are honoring God right now. We’re going to hop right in today to Psalm 34. All this week we’re studying about what it looks like to seek God. We’re observing the people who sought out Jesus, who looked for him, hoping to find all of their hopes met in him. And if you are seeking hope you’ve come to the right place because around here we talk about the God of Hope. That’s one of his names. So, Psalm 34. Now verse four,
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
Wow, stop and think about that. Your face gets brighter when you look at Jesus, when you spend time with Jesus. Moses in the Old Testament, when he spent time in the presence of the Lord, his face actually got so bright he had to wear a veil. So, this is a thing. Draw close to the light of the world. And you know what? Not only do I believe your face itself will be brighter, that hope will shine out of your face, but I believe your outlook and your perspective on life will be brighter as well. Now, ironically, it’s about to get dark. We’re going to go with Nicodemus, a religious ruler in the time of Jesus, a Jewish man… We’re going to go with him after dark to meet up with Jesus. And you might imagine or infer why he did that. Yes, I imagine he was nervous. Jesus was not respected during this time among the religious leaders of the day. They were intimidated by him. They didn’t believe he was the Messiah. But Nicodemus had this feeling he must have. Deep inside there was a seed of hope that had begun to sprout based on the things he may have observed Jesus do and say, or from the stories he heard others tell. So, join me now in John the gospel of John chapter three. Beginning in verse one.
There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” 3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Now, I want to pitch a small tent here because one of the things I love about Jesus is he gets right to the heart of it. He doesn’t want to waste a minute with Nicodemus here. He wants to get to it. So verse four, now.
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” 5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” 9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
By the way, a great question. It’s something that Mary said when the angel Gabriel came and said, you’re going to bear the son of God. How can this be? God does not mind our questions. If you have questions for God, ask him, talk with him. He’s the best listener, and he is the answer to every question. Okay, verse 10 now.
Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life
By the way, if you don’t know that story in the Bible, they erected this bronze pole with a snake on it, and all of the Israelites who were afflicted by the snake bites were healed when they looked upon that bronze pole, it was absolutely a foreshadowing of the cross where Jesus would die for our sins and we would look to him for healing. Isn’t that beautiful? Okay, moving on. Now, verse 16, you may know this one.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.
If you feel like you’re sitting at this nighttime appointment with Jesus and Nicodemus, and you are ready to come to the light, you want to be born again, it simply means that you come to the cross and you look at what Jesus did for you there. He offered you his forgiveness and love. Those sins don’t have to plague you anymore. You can be forgiven of those. You just have to ask him. Accept his free gift of salvation and you will be born again. It’s why he was born on Christmas, why he died on Good Friday, and why he rose again on Easter Sunday, defeating death hell and the grave and all of our fears. You don’t have to fear dying because Christ came to die for you. Come into the light this Christmas. Oh, until next time, you are so loved.
Thank you for making space to study the Bible with me today. If you feel something stirring in your soul, that’s the God who made you, saying, I love you and I want to know you. It’s what Christmas is all about. Jesus came for you so that your soul would know its worth. He came to bring joy to the world, and to your world. It’s the most beautiful love story ever written, and it’s true. It’s the greatest rescue mission in history, and it was for you. If you want to respond to that stirring in your soul, to know Jesus a little better, please take a moment and check out our show notes, where you’ll find lots of hope and encouragement for your journey.
The Bible for Busy people is brought to you this Christmas season by Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Every day and every night, their team is on a mission to share the good news with our neighbors who are homeless. Like the angels who came on the night, Jesus was born. They make sure that every person who walks through the doors of the Mission knows that there is hope because Jesus came, and how much He loves them. Every person they meet on the street encounters the love of Christ through a friendly smile, a warm blanket, a cup of cocoa, and an invitation to take that next step toward healing from addiction or mental illness. If you want to be part of making sure every soul knows its worth in Seattle this Christmas, volunteer or donate at ugm.org. Thank you and Merry Christmas.
This podcast is one branch of a Christmas tree called Purposely, a network designed to connect you with life-giving conversations, and to inspire you to find and live out God’s purpose for your life. If you’ve got a pulse, you’ve got a purpose.