February 24, 2002

John 3:1-17

There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, 'Rabbi, we all know you're a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren't in on it."

Jesus said, "You're absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it's not possible to see what I'm pointing to--to God's kingdom."

"How can anyone," said Nicodemus, "be born who has already been born and grown up? You can't re-enter your mother's womb and be born again. What are you saying with this born-from-above' talk?"

Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation--the 'wind hovering over the water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life--it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch--the Spirit--and becomes a living spirit.

"So don't be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be 'born from above'--out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where its headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God."

Nicodemus asked, "What do you mean by this? How does this happen?"

Jesus said, "You're a respected teacher of Israel and you don't know these basics? Listen carefully I'm speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing second-hand here, no hearsay Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don't believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can't see, the things of God?

"No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up-and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

<The Message >


1. What is Jesus pointing at? What is Jesus pointing at? What is Jesus pointing at?

And what are you pointing at?

2. There used to be an old tradition of having both a public and a private name. One way of understanding that is that there is a power which can be applied over names and those who carry such. The power of death is over the public name, everyone dies. But if one's private name is kept for friends and lovers, death has no entrance and no power here.

We are shaped by the names we have. Do you have only a public name or do you have also a name from the living Spirit? My prayer is that your name which is formed by "something you cannot see or touch" will continue to be a blessing to you and others.

It is this secret name which allows you to follow the blowing wind.

3. To get back to the first point about what is being pointed at -- here is an image of that presence of GOD -- GOD didn't go to all the trouble of sending Jesus merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it is. Jesus and you and I are here to help put the world right again, but not by destruction.

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