By Scott Brown
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
Focal Passage: John 3:1-8, 14-17
To this man who had the right bloodline, the right credentials, and the right training He says, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus could not continue on the same path he was on and get where he was trying to go.
He was broken and beyond repair. He could not merely make a new start, he needed new life. This is true for each of us, as well. God is not only the God of second chances, He is the God of new life! Which is good, because we “must be born again.”
Jesus uses a story Nicodemus is familiar with to help him understand the gospel. God, punishing the people of Israel for their grumbling, sent serpents into their camp.
People were bit and dying. They were in trouble. They could not save themselves from the venom that was killing them. Moses lifts a bronze serpent high for all to see. Any who looked upon the lifted serpent would live. Just like that, you and I are bitten by a horrible serpent.
We are sickened by the venom of sin and we are hopelessly dying. Jesus was lifted high on the cross (and now exalted through the gospel) that any who look upon Him will be saved. We can’t suck the venom out of our souls, we also can’t ignore the problem. We can only trust in Jesus and be born again by the Spirit.
John 3:16 holds a special place in my heart, as it likely does yours as well. The night I was born again was the first time I had ever heard such a beautiful statement as this.
The man who shared with me took this verse and read it to me. It was so foreign to my mind that I, like Nicodemus, could not grasp what it was saying. In my blindness I believed God was not loving. He was a cruel God who demanded of us and gave nothing in return. I was so wrong.
The man backed up and had me read the verse again, with one change. He had me read it like this: “For God so loved Scott, that He gave His only Son, Jesus, that if Scott would believe on Him, Scott would never perish but Scott would have everlasting life.”
In that moment something in my soul shattered. The God of the universe loved me? He died for me? He would save me?
That night the Spirit of God, through the Word of God, caused me to be born again by the grace of God. I was instantly an altogether new creation. I died that night and was immediately born anew as I turned from all I was and turned entirely to Jesus.
Even now, I can’t get over it. The God Who would be right to leave me in my sin to suffer everlasting death instead suffered the cross to be lifted up that I might be made new and have everlasting life. What an awesome God we have, and what an awesome grace He gives! B&R