” The answer my friend is blowing in the wind “
Poor old Nicodemus, he is a ruler of the Jews and somehow he has been “touched” by the Words of Jesus. So under the cover of darkness so that his colleagues would not know, he has gone to talk to Jesus. This is a big deal for him because here he is, an elite person in his society-that has been taught and taught the accepted ways-the only commonly accepted ways and he goes to consult Jesus.
We can almost hear him thinking, I wonder if what he says is true-and one part of him hoping to hear the truth and the other part, almost scared that he may hear the truth, the truth that will not sit comfortably with his current lifestyle. Where he would have to say to others-I was wrong-or just as hard, or harder to be prepared to go from respected rabbi and the associated society backslapping to….well, quite probably just the opposite.
His question of “how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Given the situation I would suggest is more than appropriate.
His question reminds me of the many times I have been asked why I decided to leave my previous occupation of 25 years in the finance industry and become a pastor. Often, people are dumbfounded by it and when I answer their question I tell them the truth. Being that essentially I do not know-I can point to several incidences and times that give me confidence that maybe it was a good thing, a correct thing to do-but the how it came about-that I honestly cannot really answer-it just seemed to happen.
Any of us here today, do we really know when we came to believe, for most-I would suggest that over time it just seemed to happen.
In a world that’s mantra is be masters of our own destiny, it seems an absolute mystery that a person who has seemingly mastered this world, a person of extreme wealth and prestige will bow down next to a beggar from the slums and both stretch out their hands, humbly in hope and faith to receive the body and blood of Christ.
Of being born again in the spirit. Jesus tells Nicodemus: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”.
What a great answer to us here today. Did we decide to be filled with the spirit of faith-no, it just seemed to happen, are we to judge or believe that we can control who, how, when others will come to faith-no.
It would seem we are helpless, and in ourselves we are because no amount of logical discussion, no amount of tearful and joyous testimonials can bring a person to faith. They can get a person inquisitive or want to know more-but can cannot bring them the spirit of faith.
Prior to leaving Adelaide, one of the removalists asked the “why a pastor?” question and during our discussion it became apparent that he was well versed, very well versed in fact in the contents of the bible but also said, “I would like to believe, but I just can’t”.
Born again in the Spirit. Was this guy Baptised? I do not know. He wants to believe but can’t-how’s that work-I do not know.
But what we do know, is that God wants this young man to be of his kingdom-and how the Holy Spirit will do that-is in God’s wisdom and ways.
God works in mysterious ways-isn’t that the truth. We can but marvel of his wisdom.
Born again of the spirit-like Nicodemus we can ask how does this work. Of course we are talking Baptism-but how does that work. How does Holy Communion work, how is it that the Words of God are not just letters on paper-but work like a living and growing organism.
We could hit the theology books and come up with a majestic answer-but in truthfulness, all those answers could still get back to a follow up question like our kid’s ask us-how, and another how, and another.
There are so many things we do not know-“God is and always was”. Try that one on for size.
A lecturer at the sem. asked us-why doesn’t the bible tells us these things-and I think this was about the only answer I got right in my whole first year when I nervously responded “because we don’t need to know” to which he added, it might even be negative for us to know.
Studying the scriptures-that is an honourable thing for all Christians to do. To study how God has saved us, why he needed to save us by sending his Son, to be inspired to act on his love to us by loving others-absolutely-But we don’t read them so that we can become God like. Those big questions-God doesn’t tell us because we don’t need to know.
Those big questions like how and where the spirit does its business.
We are told what we need to know.
Today’s verse: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.
That, God tells us-because we need to know it-it is important.
That Holy Baptism, Holy Communion and the Word of God brings and builds faith-so that we believe in His son-we know these work because God has told us they do-he has told us because they are important.
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes, so it is with everyone born of the Spirit”.
How did we come to faith, to believe and trust in those Words of John 3:16-we know the ways God has told us-through Holy Baptism-The Sacraments-the Word of God.
How they work, I do not know and don’t need to know except that they do work.
If you have ever doubted your standing before God-just remember that the spirit has blown your way-come to you, that now you believe. And if you ever doubt the future-remember the past-that in our sin-in our shunning of God-he chased us down-would not give up until he had us, that against our natural wishes, he put it all on the line so that you are here today.
Jesus said “treat others like you like to be treated” and “love others like you love yourself”. Well what if your love for yourself is not so great, what if you know that you don’t deserve to be treated with any respect or kindness?
If you have ever wondered of those two statements from Jesus, like I have. Think of your standing before God-how he wanted you so much in His kingdom that the spirit blew your way-You are Important to him.
So treat others like we like to be treated, love others like we love ourselves-I do not know how that pans out because that can change with circumstances.
But what has panned out is that we, you have been given faith. How we like, or feel like we should be treated, how we love ourselves sometimes may not be so useful.
From how we have been treated, how we have been loved by God to bring us here-we know that he will continue to do so. The rich man next to the poor, with the gift of faith holding out their feeble hands at Holy Communion, today, with the gift of faith when we hold out our feeble hands-rejoice in the gift of the Body and Blood of our Saviour, and rejoice that you believe-and rejoice in the proof of how important, how highly God thinks of you-given as proof to you by you being here.
And pray-that the Holy Spirit will be heard by those that have not joined us yet-that they too will bow before the Father, alongside their Saviour Jesus and marvel of his love for them. Amen.