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Restless Heart? John #11

a personal note to start: With readers near and far - financial fears, physical struggles, loneliness, racial tension, etc., we all need hope, we all need truth, and we need our faith in God increased. We will flounder unless we plant our feet in the Word of God, the person of Jesus Christ and life with him. Put yourself in the story John relates about Jesus - you sitting across from the Messiah - thinking how you would respond, what you would ask, what and how Jesus responds. That's what happens right here in John chapter three with Nic at night. While following Nicodemus in the dark as he made his way to Jesus, I realized that this scenario—this scene between Nicodemus and Jesus Christ—has so much to say to each one of us. Step a little closer and consider it with me. Nicodemus has heard about Jesus’ miracles and his teachings and so he must find out more for himself … and as always, Jesus makes himself available. [It does not matter who we are, what we have done or what time of day it is, Jesus is available to us.] Nicodemus makes a statement, but Jesus tells him what he really needs to know—‘You must be born again, you must be made new, spiritually, and that only happens through Me.’ Jesus does not beat around the bush. Not with Nicodemus, not with us. Nicodemus asks the question about going back into his mother’s womb, but Jesus doesn’t belittle, he just explains spiritual rebirth. [With Jesus, there are no dumb questions, just unasked ones.] Nicodemus, the great Jewish teacher, has met the greatest teacher of all time in Jesus Christ. In this one discussion, Jesus tells Nicodemus what you and I need to know to gain eternal life, what it means to be in the kingdom of God, and how to be born again—tenderly explaining that because of God’s great love, he came to us, to make possible all three.  I just cannot help but wonder if Jesus then made that well-known verse 16 personal for Nicodemus . . . ‘Don’t you see, Nicodemus, my Father loves you—well, he loves all men—clear back to the very start, with the one he named ‘Adam’ and his mate, ‘Eve’—loves you so much that he was willing to sacrifice me. The only requirement on your part, Nicodemus, is that you believe, that you trust in Me . . . and in return, you are promised eternal life.’ I think he was quiet then as Nicodemus tried to absorb what Jesus meant by eternal life, and ‘belief’; what about the Law? ‘What about the 613 points of the Law that he endeavored to keep as a good and righteous Jew?’ his mind raced to figure out. And love? Is this what he was searching for when he went to see Jesus—the love of God? ‘Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you,’ Augustine said, and yes, it’s true! Our hearts long for the love of the Father, and we can only know that love through Jesus . . . how cruel it would have been for God the Father to sacrifice his son if we could have known him or experienced his love in some other way! At some point, we have all been Nicodemus, as we suddenly become aware that there are questions to be answered, things to discover for ourselves about Jesus Christ . . . and right then, we have a choice to believe or not. Of course, believing is not enough, now is it? Let me be clear—it is not enough to rank Jesus as a great teacher along with Mohammed, Joseph Smith or Eckhart Tolle--(I am sorry, Lord, for listing your name in the same sentence). He was the greatest teacher ever, but not because he came to teach; he was God incarnate—God made flesh. He is God, seated at the right hand of the Father.   So, no, it is not enough just to believe . . . James said, even the demons believe. No, believing in Jesus requires an act of our will to surrender to him;  because his ways are higher than our ways,  because new life comes only through Christ, because in that way,  ‘his kingdom comes to earth as it is in heaven’  and we enter into eternal life, never to be separated from the love of God.  It is what Jesus meant when he invited the disciples to follow him, and I know it is what he means for you and me to understand personally from Nicodemus. Jesus is looking into your eyes now with this invitation, Follow Me.

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