John 3:1-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”[b] 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born from above.’[e] 8 The wind[f] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you[g] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[h] 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[i]
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Thoughts on Today’s Reading—From Pastor Pam
This past week I attended ordination Interviews with the United Methodist Board of Ordained Ministry. Each year, our Conference gathers ministers as they submit to the challenges of becoming ordained and provisional elders and deacons. It is an emotional time for all involved as they respond to Christ’s call to ministry after years of study, practice, prayer and discernment of Christ’s call.
We are all challenged in this life. Sometimes it’s to meet the expectations of others. Sometimes stuff just gets thrown at us and we do our best. This week’s sermon speaks to how Jesus challenges us. We see this in his encounters with people throughout the New Testament. We experience his challenges to us today at work, at home, in our relationships and how we see our life in him and in our responses.
In John 3, Jesus challenges a Pharisee named Nicodemus to think about his life and relationship with God and faith in a new way. Seeing and entering the kingdom of God requires being born again of water and spirit, Jesus says. We are changed and challenged forever as we give up control. This John Indermark prayer reflects the acknowledgement that our lives are an ongoing discernment of Christ’s specific call to each of us: “In my heart, through my life, within my church, what do you want me to do for you, O God?”
That change in us can transform those around us and even the world. If we accept the challenges of Christ to faithfully act, and to intercede on the behalf of others, to embrace and become welcoming community, we can find ourselves vulnerable. But God’s grace calls us to show up and empowers us to dare to build the kingdom together. In all this, we must stay centered and grounded in Christ.
Grace and Peace,