Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service 

March 9, 2017

Dear Friends,

This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon John 3:1-17:

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 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.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “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!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 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.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 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. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:1–17, NIV)

“How can this be?”  It’s a question that strikes me as I first read this passage… a question that Nicodemus asks of Jesus.  It speaks to a conundrum regarding faith.  “How can Nicodemus believe what Jesus says?”  At minimum, it leads me to wonder at a comparison between ancient times and today.  What I see is that the tendency to question, is as vibrant as ever.  It seems that the search for truth indicated by the questions we ask has been, is, and will remain an integral part of our human experience.

We have phrases for our tendency to question: “drilling down;” “uncovering;” “ferreting out.” It’s how we bring to light what’s hidden.  The kinds of questions we ask and how frequenty they are posed often determine how judgments and conclusions become widely accepted, or not.

So, looking ahead, what are the truths we'll ferret out in the coming days?  Who knows?

We might get a hint by looking back to previous times,where discoveries led to conclusions which revealed a sad and frustrating realization.  Too many times the pursuit of truth has uncovered human frailty, constantly reminding us how easy it is to short circuit our potential.

This week’s passage contains one of the most well-known verses in the entire Bible.  “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.”  The following verse is also revealing, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

 

            When Nicodemus looked at his own life,             what was hidden, concealed?

            In his question about how to be born again,         what came to be revealed?

           Did his effort to grapple with and understand            a greater truth,

     indicate he was like the great Sherlock Holmes,      detecting sleuth?

       If so, did he discover something criminal,        inherently bad,

            or just what was weak, sorrowful, angry,            sick, and sad.

 

            I think of wind blowing where it pleases,             with constant sound… and I can hear it.

                  With this as backdrop, Jesus said,                “You must be born again of water and the spirit.”

 

          “If you don’t believe me in the earthly things          how can you trust in what heaven brings?”

 

  Feeling how the cross could cause an agonizing,     questioning shout,

       I see God experiencing sinful truth as revealed         from the inside out.

             The judgement of self-sacrificial love               proves Christ’s salvation route

              as one which restores and renews,               concluding by overcoming doubt.

 

Pastor Rich Wagner