Advent 22 (2013): Time for a Bigger Box

John 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

Have you ever had a situation where you’re trying to think of something and a default answer pops into your head and then you can’t think of anything else? Then once someone tells you the answer, you recognize you’d created a box around your thoughts and it kept you from thinking of anything else.  If so, then you can have some empathy for poor Nicodemus here.

Everything he’d ever been taught is that his birthright as Jew meant he was to be among God’s chosen people.  Being born a Jew meant everything!

Then, along comes Jesus with some cold water.  He says that’s not really what it’s all about.  Your physical heritage as a Jew isn’t what counts.  Being spiritually born into the family of faith is what matters.

You were thinking, I’ve been born a Jew, I’ve got it made. 

Jesus tells you that you’ve been born a Jew, but you’ve got it wrong.

To make matters worse Jesus is a fellow Jew.  He’s someone you’re acknowledging comes from God, is doing miraculous signs, but now is telling you that you need to be born of the Spirit.  The fact that Jesus prefaces His statements in verses 3, 5, and 11 with “I tell you the truth” must have thrown Nicodemus’ whole worldview into complete turmoil.

Everything he thought was the right answer wasn’t.  Every privilege he felt he had was stripped away.  Every earthly, physical, and inheritance promise was pulled out from under him and he couldn’t see how anyone can be born again in a physical sense.

Jesus points to the spiritual realm and says,

I tell you the truth.”

Sometimes you need a bigger box.

bigger box

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 22, 2013

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