Conversations in the Gospel of John :: When Religion Meets Jesus

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This week’s posts, beginning on Monday, will be brought to you by Michelle Wijawa – I’ll introduce you to her soon – you’ll love her! As promised, for the next several weeks we’ll be eavesdropping on conversations Jesus had with people he met along the way to the cross. Interestingly, one of his first intimate chats takes place with a Jewish theologian of sorts named Nicodemus. He’s a highly respected, Jewish religious leader, and Jesus has just turned his neat and tidy theological world upside down. Nicodemus knows enough about the things of God to recognize that Jesus is no ordinary guy, but he’s had God in such a tight little religious box that Jesus is blowing his mind.

Read the story in your bible – John 3 – if you haven’t already, or in The Message (you can find it at biblegateway.com or on your bible app). As you consider the first eight verses notice how Jesus uses the language of creation as he describes to Nicodemus what it means to be born again. Oh, and don’t skim past the fact that the Triune God is at work in this mysterious re-creation.

“You must be born again.” This concept is wildly different than what Nicodemus had known his whole life. His was a religion of lots of “don’t do this” and “keep away from that” and “I’m better than you because I’m very moral and pious” when all of a sudden Jesus steps onto the scene and into his crisp religious world doing things only God Himself could do, but in a very different way than his doctrine dictated.

I can relate, can’t you? I’ve been a believer for quite awhile and over the past few months I’ve watched God do and allow things that don’t seem like God to me. I wonder where he is and what he’s thinking sometimes as tornados slice through the middle of America and violence finds its way into elementary schools and boys die who’ve barely had time to live. The stuff of life doesn’t always add up the way I think it should. Do you ever feel that way?

Then, like Nicodemus, I have a little conversation with Jesus and I’m floored by his answer…

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

19-21 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” (John 3:16-18)

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