John 3 v 9 - 21: 'Love not judgement'

John 3 v 9-21 I want you to use your imagination this morning and imagine you are NICODEMUS. You are a Jewish religious leader in first century occupied Israel. You will have spent all your time from childhood learning the Scriptures and the various additional Jewish instruction. You are certain about YHWH, the Almighty God who chose to be the God of Israel. You know that when the promised Messiah appears He will successfully defeat the Romans and bring freedom to your nation. You recognise what an incredibly privileged position you are in. But still you sense that there is something missing. You can’t put your finger on it, and you try to dive deeper into your studies and your leadership role. This man Jesus has come along and disturbed the establishment. You think at first that He is one more troublemaker. However, you have heard stories about His healing miracles and received snippets of His teaching and you are confused. The other leaders with whom you meet are becoming agitated by His actions, but you are a seeker of the truth. You want to hear what this man has to say for himself. You know about Jesus’ claims and you have studied the Scriptures to remind yourself of who the Messiah will be, what type of character. The only thing to do is see Him yourself. Yet, that is fraught with difficulties. To do that in the daytime would be opening yourself to all sorts of talk, so night it has to be. The stars are clear in the sky as you make your way to where you have been told Jesus is staying, a little distance out of Jerusalem. The house is full of people, as His disciples are staying there with Him, but a room is found where the two of you can speak. You begin by telling Him why you are here-‘You are a teacher who has come from God’, v 2-and then Jesus speaks of having to be born again! You have never heard the like and you think you know all there is to know about God! Your sense of who God is: Judge, King, Almighty Creator, Lord of all, is shaken. You have read so much of the God who brings judgement, fair judgement, but judgement still the same and yet Jesus is now speaking of the God who loved the world so much that He sent His only Son-and you know for sure that He is talking about Himself-to save the world rather than to condemn it. You feel like you are trembling all over. You’ve read the stories of God destroying the world by flood in the time of Noah and threatening to do the same to the Israelites in the wilderness, but now you hear from the lips of this mysterious character that He has been sent by God to save the world. And He is doing it out of LOVE, divine love! Every part of your brain thinks that what is being said is nonsense, but there is that hunger in your heart and this urge to give up everything-all the respectable, secure living-to come, follow Him wherever He chooses to take you. As you leave, staggering out through the door, Jesus challenges you to come into the light. For you that means standing up against the other religious leaders by proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. A couple of years later and you will be doing that, because this evening has changed your life! You have met one to one with God! My Father endured two years national service. He had just become a Christian and committed himself to kneeling by his bedside every night to say his prayers, much to the amusement of the other men in the barracks. However, he found after a while that one or two men would approach him to ask him why he did this and he told them that it was because he had Jesus in his heart, he knew the living Lord. That put off most of the inquirers, but there was one man who remained to ask questions. My dad was getting frustrated, because whatever he said to this man, he didn’t seem to understand. My dad wracked his brain to see what other Bible passages he could say which might help and remembered John 3 v 16. When he said the words of that verse to this man, John his name was, the man jumped up and ran around the room shouting, ‘’Yes, I’ve got it! I understand now’’. He asked for prayer and as my dad prayed, the man’s face changed as he entered into a new, life-changing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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