John 3 The Wilderness

2016-01-09-08-59-59John very quickly summarizes what happened at the start, the kickoff, of Jesus ministry. It was very powerful; so much so that those seekers who had come to hear from John were now identifying themselves with Jesus and John the Baptist said it was a good thing. Needs were being met, and God was showing His people they were not forgotten. Jesus spent some time out in the country. This is a period where are not told details about the days He spent but we are told of the effect. All are coming to Him.

All.

All.

All.

Jesus spent time out in the countryside and all were coming to Him.

  • Have I gone out to seek Him?
  • Do I understand that Jesus is available to me in the wilderness of my emotions?

He is there for me to come to Him. He wants to spend that time with me. In that place Jesus talks about heaven, for He wants me there with Him.

  • Jesus speaks truth with authority, am I listening?
  • Am I in that wilderness?

Listen for and to Him. Seek Him out. Jesus has truth I need to hear. The spirit of God is in Jesus without limit.

All who believe in Jesus have life eternally.

All.

All.

John 3 Jesus First

Some time has passed. We learn that cousin John the Baptist has continued baptizing and at the same time Jesus is now baptizing. So, what is the purpose of these two baptisms? John’s disciples see it as a competition. The scripture question says the issue is purification. Baptism represents an act of purification. John answers his disciples explaining that the purification of baptism is nothing unless it comes from heaven. I hear that the ritual only has power as God Himself gives it to a man. They have come to John seeking The Messiah. John is a great preacher and witness but not the One. He is more like the best man to Jesus as bridegroom. John wants the focus to turn to Jesus.

  • Am I following this same way?
  • When I have been given the privilege of being a witness of and for Christ, am I willing to step out of the attention paid to me as His words, through me, have worked in the heart of that person?
  • Am I wanting to have their attention?

Oh horror of horror! Step out of the way and let God have their full attention! I can stand behind or to the side or on my knees in prayer, But Lord, please keep me from standing in their line of sight and blocking their view of You due to the imperfect in me! Let my life be so transparent that I am merely seen through, as the scrim on stage lights the mysterious and capture the focus, raise the scrim, pull all of me from the focus and let your light shine clearly drawing all people to You.

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John 3 Provisions

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Jesus states clearly that believing in the Son of Man, who is to be lifted up in the same way as Moses lifted the serpent when the people were in the wilderness, will bring people eternal life. In Moses’ day, as the physical life was saved by merely looking at what God provided (in the wilderness of sin), so eternal life is provided by the turning to the one who is to be lifted up as well, the Son of Man. This is the context for the oft quoted verse on how much that God loved us, that He gave Himself as Son so that those who believe in Him will have eternal life. Jesus came to save not judge those who believe in Him. We are all prejudged by the existence of our sin, born into condemnation for sin. BUT God has provided a way out! By faith in Him, in Jesus specifically. This is clear, no other name but the name of Jesus saves. It is spelled out to us here, in John, by Jesus Himself as spoken to Nicodemus the Pharisee. If there is confusion on someone’s faith, look to their deeds. How do they live?

  • How do I live?
  • Is my life a faithful witness to who I am?
    • Yes, it is?
    • Really?
    • Consistently?
  • And is it true to Him?

Examine myself today in the light of who He is and see where my life reflects him and see where I need to come to Him in confession to be washed clean and renewed that I may walk a faithful walk reflecting who He is in me.

2015-02-22-08-29-08.jpg(note from 2015) We might be musing for quite a while in this chapter. Yet here is an aside. Yesterday, the sun was shining very bright and giving wonderful warmth on what was a cold cold day, with the gusting bitter wind blowing away the effects of the suns warmth as much as it could . I looked around at the many other walkers. This northerner had on her warm winter coat and hat, buttoned up at the neck yet regretting that she had left her gloves at home. I was passed by a young woman in shorts, no hat, no jacket who hurried by me with a brave smile on her face. Others were in various states of preparation for the weather. It was as if some got dressed based on the appearance of the bright sun shine and an expectation thus of a warm day. Others had heard the wind, looked at a thermometer or perhaps seen the weather report.   They had on jackets and some had hat and were well prepared for their walk that day.

We walk in the light, the light that Jesus has brought into this world. It is a beautiful and perfect light and the light works deep into our soul and warms our hearts and minds. Yet we are in the world, and we must dress properly for the constant changing winds of life. This is our spiritual armor we are to dress ourselves in which God has provided for us. Am I dressed for the weather today? Is my head and eyes and soul filled with the Light of His truth?

Lord let me walk today in your light, dressed and prepared for whatever the ever-changing winds of this world might blow my way. Thank you for the protection and covering you provide for me. Let me be dressed appropriately for today and every day. Remind me to take time to check the weather report and to seek out the covering you have provided and to wear it gratefully that your light might shine through me.

John 3 Jesus wants my follow-up questions

After dropping the “truth bomb” into Nicodemus’s heart, Jesus waits for the effects to show. Nicodemus is thinking about it. He is confused. He cares enough to stick with it, to ask Jesus the only thing he can think of – which is in our current colloquial “huh?” “Say what?”   There is a picture in Nicodemus’s mind that has arisen because of Jesus’s words, and since the picture makes no sense to him, he shares it as he questions Jesus with a “how?” question.   “How can a grown man go back into his mothers womb and be born again?” Thinking about that word picture as a mother of 5, and thinking of my grown children,  oh my!  I am sure glad this is not what Jesus had in mind!

Jesus’s answer to “the how question” comes with the same dscn0775-e1496969206942.jpgannouncement of authority and truth as the first one did, (you must be born again). “Truly truly” : unless this…, then that… can’t happen. Unless you are born of water AND the spirit, you can’t enter the kingdom of God.

I want to be like Jesus.  “How” does Jesus answer questions?  ‘How’ does He teach others to follow?  Lets look at ‘how’ Jesus answers Nic’s ‘how’ question.  First,  Jesus answers questions. He speaks with authority. He allows time for the hearer to be confused. He wants the follow up questions. He then explains further.

  • First-it was a brief statement of concise truth.
  • Second – it was a delineation between the physical and the spiritual worlds having physical and spiritual bodies
  • Third – it was longer, deeper, spoken in plural form referring to himself and the Father. He explains His entire purpose -eternal life, Jesus is there for the entire world.

Do I spend enough time lingering on this truth? There are two worlds. My physical body is living in a physical world. My spiritual body must be born by the Spirit in order to enter the next world.   Yes, marvel at this. Marvel at the thought of another world beyond this. Put my mortal life into eternal perspective. Think how many eggs there are in every women, but not all are fertilized and born as flesh into the world. Most are flushed away. Yet with God as Father, we can be born from above. When God himself fertilizes our soul and we are born again. Just like pregnancy, this is a process that takes time. Allow time to work in the Hearst of those I love and those I share His truth with. Jesus allowed time for Nicodemus to grow. Lord I trust You to work in the hearts of those I love.

growing-green-sprout-asphalt-17191363Just like the very seeds of the earth, it takes time for that sprout to work it’s way through the hard seed shell, which has been watered with the word of life, and slowly works it’s way through the dirt of the earth breaking through the hard crust and sprouting into the light of day! What promise of fruit there is.

Remember, it was Nicodemus who came to tend to the body of Jesus as it was taken from the cross. It was he who brought the pounds of myrrh and aloes for his body’s burial.

Lord, continue to grow in me, my spiritual life. Let me be mindful of eternal truth while yet in this earthly form . Help me be more like you body and soul.

John 3 Think Time

You must be born again. Jesus has spoken this truth into the heart of Nicodemus and then He waits. He does not explain. He simply declares and then waits. He gives Nicodemus time to contemplate, process, think and even time to be confused. He gives time pondering time, time for seeking understanding and time to choose how far to go in that desire for truth. Time tests sincerity. How much does he want to know? How much do I want to know. How far am I willing to go to understand? How much do I desire truth? Do I let others have their time to seek, to ponder to commit to the search for truth? Jesus surprised and confused Nicodemus with a concise truth. Do I let Jesus surprise me with concise truth? Do I trust Him enough to search out the truth, to turn to Him for explanation and to allow my mind to travel new paths of understanding?

Lord, let me be like you and allow cleveland_museum_of_art_-_damaged_thinkerpeople the space to consider truth when they have sought me out. Let me be like you in a love that challenges their understanding and trusts in the process of growth that You designed in us. Father, as a parent, help me speak just the necessary word that will challenge the trusting confidence of my children to think in new and more complete and mature ways and allow them the time to understand and grow. Father, when I find myself in the place of Nicodemus and I do not understand your plainly spoken truth, help me out of the ruts of my thinking that I may be renewed in my mind, with new insight, new understanding and grow in my love and awe and trust in your loving gentle ways.

John 3 Truth Shared

Let there be no doubt. The signs that Jesus was doing were obvious to the religious rulers. They knew that after 400 years of silence, God was with Israel again. No one had any personal memory, no generation was yet alive from the last time God spoke through a prophet. All they had was their faith. Now comes this man to see Jesus who is doing unquestionable signs from God. (Nic, I sometimes like to call him that for short.)  He comes in the dark, afraid of his fellow leaders to confess to Jesus. First Nicodemus calls him Rabbi. The Pharisee, a believer in resurrection and Jewish ruler addresses Jesus as teacher. The signs are so great that in first meeting, he uses a term of respect. Was Nicodemus a seeker? His heart is such that he uses this term. At least he was certain it was warranted because of the crowds already following Jesus and stirred up because of the many signs. He knew that no an-inconvenient-truth-vs-a-reassuring-lieone could do these things unless they were sent by God. Here, a man elevated to a ruling position, recognizes and honors One who he already knows is closer to God than he is. “God is with Him” of this he is certain. In fact, not just Nicodemus knows this, but the entire ruling party he represents, for he uses “we know”. Jesus is there to teach Israel. The fact is made clear by the signs.

How does Jesus respond to this. Is it a question? A challenge? An honor? An appeal? Jesus skips over all the political implications of who Nicodemus represents and goes to the mans heart. Jesus is not waylaid by his position of power, Jesus speaks to the mans heart.

“Truly truly” the words of a teacher to call attention and listen carefully, don’t miss what he is about to say. “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

20150623_944716The heart of Nicodemus was for seeing Gods kingdom! Jesus speaks to save the mans soul. To invite him to where his own heart is longing for- Into Gods kingdom. But how? Here comes the whole truth, truth that surpasses what this religious and political pastor of the day in all his study already knew. “You must be born again” clearly these words make no sense to Nicodemus.

Jesus does not jump in with a long explanation. Jesus lets it sink in, gives him think time. He declares truth and then waits for a response.

Do I do that when I share truth with a seeker? Do I allow myself to even recognize the heart of the person who may be in a position of authority over me? Can I see beyond position to recognize a heart? Am I so living truth that seekers are drawn to me anyway? When that moment comes, whenever I am privileged that someone actually sees in my life a connection with God, do I turn my heart towards theirs?

Lord, let me follow you today, that no matter who I am with, I am willing to hear their own need for you under whatever uniform or position of authority they may have, even over me. Let me be more like you that I can speak a clear word , not a diatribe, but a word of truth and then be silent, and wait for their heart to respond.