John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)
And then the punch in V10: Jesus answered him,
Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?Jesus is saying - if you had understood your Jewish Bible, you'd understand this: In Ezekiel 36:24-27, God promised that for his people to be saved (for them to see the Kingdom), they would need to have their sins washed with water(Symbolized by baptism) and they need to have God's Spirit placed in them.
That is, they would need a new forgiveness coming from 'Outside In' (God's washing of sins). And they would need a new motivation coming from the 'Inside Out' (God giving new hearts moved and ready to obey him).
And coupled this with Ezekiel 37:11-14, where God describes the Resurrection promised to Israel (A second birth for the nation), Nicodemus ought to have known what Jesus was referring to.
To be sure, Junior went through birth for the first time last Monday. And I went through it some 30+ years ago.
But according to Jesus, neither Junior nor I will ever see the powerful and beautiful rule of God; the love of God, nor the justice of God without also having a birth from above.
This is an astounding thought. It's a sobering thought.
Let's draw 3 conclusions, and ask 2 questions, and this may help us all to know what it means to for someone to be Christian.
Pic by Peter Kim.