Sermon for March 16, 2020: “ONE on ONE”
Jesus & Nicodemus
Reading: John 3:1-17
I began reading coming books when I was three years old.
That was when I was introduced to Spider-Man and the world of Marvel Comics.
I instantly fell in love with his costume and loved that artwork.
My favorite Spider-Man book of all time was called: Marvel Team-Up.
Every month, I would read adventures of Spider-Man teaming up with super-heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk.
And at the top of the front page in bold print would be “Stan Lee Presents: Spider-Man and (guest star super-hero) —TOGETHER!”
Throughout the season of Lent we get to see Jesus team-up with different people. People who have one-on-one encounters with Christ.
And with each team-up, Jesus’ mission expands beyond the boundaries of Jerusalem.
From Pharisees, to Samaritans, to the Blind, to the Grieving and to the Dead.
With each team-up, my goal is for you to see that
The Good News is not for one person, but for the whole world!
Today Jesus meets Nicodemus.
Nicodemus has always fascinated me.
On the one hand, he is a Pharisee.
The name “Pharisee” means “the separated one,” and the Pharisees had separated from all ordinary life in order to keep every detail of the law.
He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the “Supreme Court” of the Jewish people.
Sanhedrin is singular, just like Supreme Court. So you need to say the Sanhedrin WAS on the case
If there was a religious issue in the Jewish community, the Sanhedrin were on the case.
So this is a man who has the credentials.
A true follower of God.
And now he wants to talk to Jesus.
But he doesn’t want the attention that would go with such a meeting, so Nicodemus does it at night.
We don’t know WHY Nicodemus shows up, but it is important to notice WHEN he does.
In John’s Gospel, setting and timing are very important.
“Night & darkness” symbolize unbelief.
And in the Jewish culture, the night is when bad things happen.
The same belief is held today by many people.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Nothing good happens at (pick your time)?”
While the darkness has an ominous meaning,
“Day & light” symbolize belief.
So I believe Nicodemus is in the dark when it comes to God.
It’s not like Jesus makes it easy for him at first.
All this talk about “born above” and “born again.”
That language seems to be very confusing to Nicodemus.
AND TO US…
But Jesus then explains what he means.
He does this by talking about God’s goal for the world.
Which is to move the world from darkness into a world of light
because we have a God committed to bringing us LOVE.
The word used for “love” in our Gospel is the Greek word “agape” which is the deepest and most meaningful type of love.
And with this love comes a new birth, a RE-creation, of who we are as children of God.
We are born anew.
Yes, we can even say we have been “born again.”
We are born again through our Baptism.
(Which is great knowing we have a baptism today to celebrate)
So what makes Baptism so important?
This rite is called “Remembering or Affirming our Baptism.”
We hear the promises made BY God to us.
That is very important.
God promises to love us for the rest of our lives.
Even on the days we don’t deserve that love.
And every day is a wonderful opportunity to remember that we die and rise in our Baptism.
Every day is a moment where we can be “bathed again.”
We say “goodbye” to our old selves, and “hello” to our new selves.
Whenever darkness fell upon Martin Luther, he would find hope in yelling, “I AM baptized!”
He does not say I WAS baptized, he says I AM baptized.
When I take a shower I remember my baptism, and I remember the promise GOD GAVE TO ME (not the other way around): “YOU (Jonathan) are mine now and forever.”
What does that mean to you and me?
The waters of baptism have washed the dark away.
And we are now covered in light.
We are children of the Light.
God comes out of love for us.
If you think you have lost God’s love, then you need to get over yourself.
God loves you.
And God has saved you.
DEAL WITH IT!
So what happens to Nicodemus?
For some reason, Nicodemus gets a bad rap, but I think his conversation with Jesus DOES affect him.
And for the better.
Nicodemus only shows up in John’s Gospel.
But each time, he appears to be drawing closer to God.
In Chapter Seven, I believe Nicodemus risks his standing among the Sanhedrin by defending Jesus when his colleagues question Jesus’ authority.
And then in chapter 19, after Jesus has died on the cross, Nicodemus appears to help bury Jesus.
So maybe Nicodemus DOES become an ally of Jesus.
Maybe, just maybe, Jesus helped him “See the light.”
And I know this will sound hokey but bear with me,
I invite you to team up with Jesus.
By that I mean think and pray what it really means to be united with Christ in your lives.
You and Jesus—TOGETHER!
And you can team-up starting this morning:
in prayer, song, meal, and Word, and the peace.
And we can team-up any time, all the time.
Let this story be your meditation guide for this week.
Put yourself in the shoes of Nicodemus.
Put yourself in place of “The World” in verse 16.
How does that affect your understanding of Jesus?
What questions would you ask Jesus?
Pray the questions.
And hold on to the answer found in the water, the Word, the meal, and the Light.
Because with God
It is Jesus and Us…TOGETHER…FOREVER!!!!