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Understanding Jesus: Meeting Nicodemus at Night

John 3:1-21, NRSV

Reflections

One night, a [Pharisee] came to Jesus and he wanted to know what he could do to be saved. Jesus didn’t get bogged down in the kind of isolated approach of what he shouldn’t do.

Jesus didn’t say, “Now Nicodemus, you must stop lying.” He didn’t say, “Nicodemus, you must stop cheating if you are doing that.” … He didn’t say, “Nicodemus, now you must stop drinking liquor if you are doing that excessively.”

He said something altogether different, because Jesus realized something basic–that if a man will lie, he will steal. And if a man will steal, he will kill. So instead of just getting bogged down in one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.” He said, in other words, “Your whole structure must be changed.”

— Martin Luther King
from speech given August 16, 1967, Atlanta, Georgia

  • We all want to have a do-over, to have a reset button
  • Born-again Christian, a redundant term, all Christians are born-again
  • Without born again, it is like replanting fruit tree without replacing the root
  • “Your whole structure must be changed” – Martin Luther King, from speech given August 16, 1967, Atlanta, Georgia
  • “Both Harder and Easier” – Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Holy Spirit is like the wind (v8)
  • In order to be lifted up, Jesus needs to be sent down to Earth and death (v14)

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