Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monday (May 2) Gospel: conversion of life

Scripture: John 3:1-8

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.' 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."


Do you nourish your faith with regular reading and prayerful reflection of the word of God? Nicodemus was hungry for God's word and became a closet disciple of Jesus. He sought Jesus out, though surreptitiously in the dead of the night. Why? Nicodemus was a "leader of the Jews", "a teacher of Israel" (John 3:10), and a member of the religious party most opposed to the teaching of Jesus.

In fact, John’s gospel account states that it was Nicodemus' own group, the Pharisees, which intimidated the authorities against confessing Jesus (John 12:42).Instead he engaged him in a seemingly unrelated topic of conversation.

Jesus said that rebirth was necessary to enter the kingdom of God. Of course, Nicodemus the Pharisee had already found religion, so he thought that Jesus must have referred to physical rebirth.

No, Jesus responded, someone who is reborn spiritually knows the experience as surely as one who has been refreshed by an invisible breeze. How can a respected rabbi among the Jews not know this? And that is precisely the point. Nicodemus is the first of what we might loosely call the official clergy with whom Jesus has personal engagement.

The Gospel portrays Nicodemus as a defender of Jesus' right to a fair trial (John 7:-51). Nicodemus also helped to bury Jesus with honor. Nicodemus did not understand the new birth which Jesus spoke of until after the resurrection.

What does it mean to be reborn? The new birth Jesus speaks of is a spiritual birth to new life and relationship with God as his sons and daughters. This new birth is made possible when one is baptized into Christ and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.

God wants to renew all his people in the gift of new life in his Holy Spirit. This new life brings us into God's kingdom or heavenly rule. What is God's kingdom? God's kingdom is that society in which God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

To be reborn is to enter that society in which God is honored and obeyed, to live as his son or daughter, and to enter into possession of that life which comes from God himself, a never-ending life of love, peace, joy, and freedom from sin and the fear of death.

Do you know the joy and freedom of new life in Jesus Christ?

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