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When we read John 3:1-17, we encounter one of the most beloved and well-known passages in all of Scripture. This passage recounts the nighttime conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus comes to Jesus seeking answers to some of life's biggest questions, and Jesus responds by revealing the profound truth of the gospel message.
In this passage, we learn that salvation is not achieved through good deeds or righteous living, but through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself declares, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Through this passage, we are reminded that the gospel message is for everyone, regardless of their background or status in society. Nicodemus, a respected religious leader, needed to hear this message just as much as anyone else. And like Nicodemus, we too must come to Jesus with open hearts and a willingness to receive the gift of salvation that he offers.
As we delve into John 3:1-17, may we be reminded of the simplicity and beauty of the gospel message, and may we be inspired to share this message of hope and salvation with those around us.
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God of Wisdom we sing your Word as each of us are at the crossroads where humanity and divinity meet. Invite us into your joyful being where you know and are known. You exist in each beginning, in all sustenance, in every redemption. We manifest your unity in the diverse ministries that you entrust to us. We pray that in the faith that acts, in the hope that does not disappoint, and in the love that endures. We have a clearer vision of you. Amen.
Scripture: John 3:1-17 Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit.7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e]14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f]15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Holy, holy, holy God, in calling forth creation from the void, You revealing yourself in human flesh, and pouring forth your wisdom to guide us. You manifest your concern for your whole universe. You invite us, as your people, to gather the world's needs into our hearts and bring them before you.
Prayers of the People:
Holy, holy, holy God, fill us with strength and courage, fill us with discernment and compassion. may we be your instruments of justice and love in this world, as it is on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
The Sermon: Discover the Ultimate Gift
The world’s most familiar Bible passage, John 3:16, carries a powerful message of God’s unqualified demonstration of love by His gift of eternal life.
But John doesn’t just want us to believe intellectually or in our heads, he wants us to respond with trust and entrust our lives to His Son. He wants us to understand how Jesus culminates God’s covenant faithfulness in a way that is non-circular, prioritized, singular, superabundant, and efficacious.
Who is Jesus talking to?
John 3:1-17 recounts the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin was a powerful Jewish council in the time of Jesus. Composed of 71 members, the Sanhedrin served as the highest judicial and legislative body in Jewish society. They had authority over both religious and civil matters, and their decisions were considered final.
As a member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus held a position of great influence and authority in Jewish society. However, despite his status and position, Nicodemus recognized that he still had much to learn and understand about spiritual matters. That is why he came to Jesus seeking answers and wisdom.
Jesus' teachings challenged the authority and traditions of the Sanhedrin, which often put him at odds with its members. This ultimately led to his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. However, even in the face of opposition and persecution from the Sanhedrin and other religious leaders, Jesus remained steadfast in his mission to bring the good news of salvation to all people.
Nicodemus was a respected religious leader who came to Jesus seeking answers to some of life's biggest questions. Jesus responds by revealing the profound truth of the gospel message, that salvation is not achieved through good deeds or righteous living, but through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Beauty and Simplicity of John's writing shows he was a passionate apostle, completely dedicated to telling people lovingly the truth. He was not afraid to tell them that some were perverting the truth and leading others astray, even calling them “false prophets” and “antichrists.”
He was a black and white, dogmatic, absolute, authoritative preacher who was always on the lookout for anyone who strayed from the truth. It was his job to warn the church about them, and that took up most of 1 John.
What is the purpose of John’s writings?
John’s Gospel was to prepare people for the coming of the kingdom of heaven and to point them to the Son of God. It was also to call people to a radical repentance of their sin and to give them water baptism so that they would be forgiven and prepared for Christ and his kingdom.
Baptism doesn't make you a follower of Jesus, but it publicly identifies you as one. It is an outward expression of an inward change. Baptism is a living picture of our new life as a follower of Jesus and represents our union with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Those who were baptized by John confessed their sins, repented of them, and believed the gospel. They were then born again of the Holy Spirit. This is a spiritual birth that enables us to see in the darkness of our lives and experience life in God’s light.
What is the purpose of Jesus’ preaching?
The primary purpose of Jesus’ preaching was to announce God’s saving grace, and His Gospel, that is, the good news about Him. This was the message that surpassed all of His signs and wonders in terms of importance.
He did this through His teaching and through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1). In His words He taught about righteous character that includes rejecting evil, loving your enemies, and being forgiving.
So, What is the purpose of the church?
The local church is a place where believers gather together to build up the body of Christ. It is a place where Christ-followers can be equipped to use their individual spiritual gifts to serve the Lord.
These gifts are listed in various passages throughout the New Testament, including Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, and Ephesians 4:11-13. Each gift is given individually, by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up and edifying the Church Body. More importantly, no one gift is more important than the others.
The Church, in the Bible, has 2 main purposes:
To glorify God: The Church exists to bring glory to God by worshiping Him, proclaiming His truth, and living out His purposes in the world. This is expressed through individual and corporate worship, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, and serving others in love.
To make disciples: The Church also exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ, both by sharing the good news of the gospel with those who have not yet heard it and by helping believers grow in their faith and relationship with God. This involves teaching, mentoring, and discipling believers, as well as providing opportunities for them to serve and use their gifts in ministry.
These two purposes are interconnected and interdependent. When the Church glorifies God, it leads people to Him, and as people are transformed by His grace and love, they are empowered to live for His glory and make more disciples. The Church is not simply an institution or organization, but a living, dynamic community of believers who are called to love and serve one another and the world around them. One view says that the local church exists primarily to make disciples. It focuses on the mandate in Matthew 28:19-20. This is the model that many well-known evangelical voices follow.
In Conclusion: What is the purpose of your life?
The purpose of my life, and indeed the purpose of every human life, is to glorify God by fulfilling the unique mission and calling that He has given to us. This involves knowing God and making Him known to others, loving and serving others as we love ourselves, and using our God-given gifts and talents to make a positive impact in the world. Ultimately, our purpose is to find our true identity and fulfillment in Jesus Christ, who offers us salvation and eternal life through faith in Him.
Holy God, the earth is full of the glory of your love. May we your children, born of the Spirit, so bear witness to your Son Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, that all the world may believe and have eternal life through the One who saves, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen
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