31 May 2015

John 3:1-17

"No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above [born again]." (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 29


Why did Nicodemus feel the need to come to Jesus by night? Was he afraid of what the other Pharisees might say? Would he lose kudos in their company? Might he even be thrown out of the community of which he was a part? We can't really know but he clearly had heard about this teacher Jesus and wanted to know more and Jesus didn't disappoint him. Jesus sets before Nicodemus a major and puzzling challenge, that if he wants to come close to God then he has to be reborn. And here is the rub: what does it mean to be reborn? Nicodemus is equally puzzled: how can that be he asks (verse 4)? Jesus goes on to explain about the work of the Holy Spirit and how through receiving the Spirit a person can begin afresh to understand the purpose God has for their lives.

There are many people in the community today who have heard about Jesus. They too might want to know more about him, but have the same initial problem that Nicodemus would have in stepping out of the safety of the group in which they comfortable, to ask the questions for themselves.

I heard a story about two young women in the city centre one night, who were somewhat the worse for wear. They wandered into an open church, and began to ask questions about the church. Then they said, "Can we talk to God?" "Of course," was the answer, "Shall I talk to him for you?" They left with tears in their eyes: they came to look in the darkness, gaining courage from the drink they had consumed, and left their lives changed having met Jesus in the darkness. Born again? Perhaps or perhaps just as a new-born baby making their first tentative steps towards it. Who knows what God has in store.

To Ponder

  • What does it mean to you to be "born again"?
  • To what extent is it a beginning or an end?
  • What change has it made in your life? And what change does it make?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pat Billsborrow

Pat Billsborrow is a supernumerary minister in the Northwich and Winsford Circuit, and is at present part of a district ministry team working within that circuit with pastoral care of four churches. She is ecumenical officer in the Cheshire part of the Chester and Stoke on Trent Methodist District.