John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)
First, How does God do that? How does he bring about New Birth?
The answer in our text is in John 3:16:
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.It is the radical grace of God - in the giving of his Son - that gives a person a new birth.
The word 'so' means 'in this way'? The ESV offers a translation "For this is how God loved the world...". In what way?
The illustration that Jesus uses for how he 'gave' his one and only son is in V14:
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.Jesus chooses an obscure text in Numbers 21. The Israelites, because of their sin, were bitten by poisonous snakes, and God commands Moses to make a bronze snake, put it up on a pole, lift it up and when the people looked at it, they were healed.
Jesus draws the parallel to his own death. Just as the snake was lifted up, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.
Lifted up onto the cross.
Just as a mother hurts and bleeds and struggles to give birth to a child (I saw it on Monday), so Jesus hurt and bled and struggled in order to give new life. When we stare at Christ and his death, and his new birth in Resurrection - that is, when we believe in him - we will be healed.
What happened to Nicodemus?
In John 19:39, Nicodemus' goes to the cross to collect Jesus' Body. He goes to were Jesus was 'lifted up'. And we must go there too in repentance, and faith.
What does the Apostle Peter (in Acts 2) say on the day of Pentecost - to people cut to the heart.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.___________________________
Pic on Flickr by BullyRook.