In our second installment of the “Back to the Basics” series we are going to answer the question…
If you missed our first post in this series, you can got back and read it here ★ “Back to the Basics” – Religion vs. Relationship – Part 2 ★. This juxtaposition between “practicing a Religion” or “having a Relationship with God” is the starting point of everything! I believe that for you to move forward in your faith you have to get this straight in your mind, it is the core of what God desires for all of us.
It really makes a difference, because your response to this question can really influence your answer to the one posed in this Thought for the Day. If you tend to view life through a “half empty,” or pessimistic lens, than you many think that people can never change so how could 1 conversation make that big of a difference. But if on the other hand, you have a “half full” or optimistic viewpoint, than you may approach this with a more open mind…which I pray you will!
Contrary to how these Thoughts for the Day are usually developed, I will ask you a series of additional questions to get to our answer. The conversation we will be looking at is recorded in Chapter 3 of the Book of John between Jesus and a religious leader of that time named Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. At the risk of going down a rabbit trail…I want to give a little background. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was part of a group of Jews who thought that they kept all God’s rules perfectly and were above reproach. What made this conversation unusual was that the Pharisees were stanch opponents to the teachings of Jesus and were so self-righteous that they believed they were incapable of being wrong. Interestingly if you look up the word Pharisee in the dictionary, you will see one definition as being “a hypocrite,” which Jesus continually called them.Okay, let’s get back on track…The text that we will start at is from John 3:2-7 (NLT),
After dark one evening, he [Nicodemus] came to speak with Jesus.“Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”
When you hear that phrase “born again,” what comes to mind? It can be confusing if you have never heard accurate teaching on what it means. Here is a link newspring.cc/watch/stepup/born-again to one of the best on messages I have ever heard on what it means to be “Born Again” from Clayton King (NewSpring Church) if you want to learn more on this.
In John 3:8-12 (NLT) Jesus finishes His thought with…
“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
“No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” John 3:13-15 (NLT)
In the brief time Jesus was on earth He did incredible miracles from healing the sick, making the blind see, the lame walk and even raising a man from the dead! The author of the text we are looking at was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and was there to record this conversation which does not show up anywhere else in the Bible. He also state stated in the very last verse of this book that…
“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25 (NLT)
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 (NLT)
I am sure that you have seen “John 3:16” written somewhere whether held by a fan in the stands, or on a t-shirt, or spray painted along the road. It is a foundation verse and probably the most quoted verse about how much God loves us and why Jesus came to earth. God sent His son to die so that we could have eternal life with Him! You can read more on this in previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★.
“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:18-21 (NLT)
This reminds me of one of my favorites quotes from John Wooden which I have shared before but it fits so perfectly…
“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”
Myrrh…You may remember hearing about the Three Wisemen from the east who followed a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus. Part 1 of the answer is found in Matthew 2:11 (NLT):
“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Part 2 of the answer is found in John 19:38-40 (NLT)…
“Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.“
You are probably wondering why this question is in here…Besides being a fun bible trivia question, the answer is found in Verse 39…Look who is mentioned there…Nicodemus!! Even though he was a Pharisee and had a lot to lose by assisting Joseph of Arimathea in preparing Jesus’ body for burial, it is clear that he made the decision to follow Jesus and accept the salvation that is available to everyone!!! So can 1 Conversation Change a Life? I think it is clear!! Yes, if you will open your mind and heart to Jesus!!
I will close with this quote from Clayton King’s message on be “Born Again,” (that I posted the link to above.)
“Salvation cannot be achieved. It can only be received and it’s received when you believe. You can’t achieve your salvation, you can’t earn it. You can’t work for God’s love, it’s already there, it was they before you were born.
Jesus is willing to save you, but He’s also able to save you. It’s one thing to be willing, it’s another thing to be able. He’s the only one who is able to save you…”
If you would like to like to pray to accept Jesus, go to this blog post…
It has a simple prayer that you can lead you in making the best decision of your life!! Please message me if you would like to learn more! I pray that you will make the decision to trust Jesus, I promise you will never be disappointed!!
If you are interested there is a follow-up to this post called: