날짜: 2018년 7월 15일
제목: 거듭난 삶의 비밀
올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20180715 Sunday Worship Sermon
“A secret of Being Born from Above”
As we live, we encounter many events that are impressive and touching.
I think one of the most impressive and touching moments is when we find a new possibility in ourselves and make it grow.
You might have experienced a moment when you found new potential in yourself that you were not aware of.
As you try to develop it, you feel joy that you did not feel before.
And you have a hope for tomorrow that you did not have yesterday.
As we live by faith as Christians, we encounter these moments all the time.
What God has planted in us might not be something special or extraordinary.
However, when God created us, He made us to find something that is rewarding and valuable so that we can commit ourselves for it and feel a real joy from it.
In today’s scripture, we find a person who seeks the real value, reward and joy of his life.
He was Nicodemus. ((ppt)
He came to meet Jesus.
Nicodemus was not an average, ordinary person.
He had everything he needed in his life.
His life looked just perfect to the people in Israel.
He was the leader of the Jews.
In today’s world, he is like a member of the House of Representatives.
That’s how his social status was like.
And he was a Pharisee.
The Pharisees were a group of Jews who strictly obeyed the law, which means Nicodemus was also a faithful believer.
He was an intellectual as well.
Jesus calls him “a teacher of Israel” in verse 10.
He was also very respectful to Jesus, which we can see from his wording when he was talking to Jesus.
That also tells us that Nicodemus had a good moral character.
See how he had everything he needed in his life.
We might think he’s successful or he must be very happy.
But then, he came to Jesus.
He came to Jesus by night.
He doesn’t look like he needs anything from Jesus.
Why would Nicodemus have come to meet Jesus then?
In the previous chapter, John chapter 2, Jesus scolded and drove out those who were selling cattle, sheep and doves from the Jerusalem temple. After this incident, leaders of Israel started to have a sneaking suspicion towards Jesus.
And people in general did not have a good perception of Jesus.
So, it wasn’t so much advantageous for the upper-class people to meet Jesus.
Some people might say maybe that’s why Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night.
Well, the Bible does not really say why Nicodemus came to visit Jesus.
We can just assume his feelings and thoughts from the conversation between him and Jesus.
In verse 2, it says “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God…” (ppt)
Nicodemus shows respect to Jesus by calling him a teacher and mentioning that Jesus is sent from God.
Them, how does Jesus respond to him?
A response from Jesus is a bit odd.
It’s not something expectable.
Think about it.
You meet someone for the first time and he tries to show respect to you, then you would probably say something like “thank you” and try to figure out why he came to see you at night so that you can have a conversation going on.
But Jesus doesn’t do what we would do.
In verse 3, Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (ppt)
Nicodemus did not even ask anything.
He basically just greeted Jesus.
But then, Jesus says, “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
It sounds so random to us, but if this is what Jesus said, He would not have said so without any purpose.
Jesus should have something in mind.
Then, we can assume the possible reason Nicodemus came to see Jesus.
Obviously, he did not come to see Jesus to talk about current events or things like that.
He had some concerns about his life deep down in his mind, something that he could not or did not want to share with other people.
And Jesus knew it when He first saw him.
That’s how Jesus could say “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” to him to give him a solution to the problem he has in his life.
And that is a response from Jesus to us as well.
That’s the answer Jesus gave to our problems deep down in our hearts in our life.
“No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
Jesus talks about the kingdom of God all of a sudden.
Brothers and sisters, let’s think about this.
Honestly, we sometimes feel like we are going to be happy if what we want and what we need is filled as needed and as wanted.
If we are experiencing economic hardships, we hope to have money and imagine that we are going to be happy only if we had money.
If a big, important exam is coming up, we hope that we would be happy if we just pass this exam.
If we are lonely, we wish for a friend who can come talk to us and comfort us.
If we are sick, we hope to get better so that everything can be okay.
If we are having a hard time in our business, we hope that “I just want to pass this hard time, then everything will be okay.”
Yes, we all experience these moments that we hope for something that we need, wishing to be happy once the need is fulfilled.
Just like us, Nicodemus had a concern in his life.
And he visited Jesus to seek for a solution.
Though he had everything, we think we will be happy if we had it, though his life looked perfect to all of us, he had empty heart.
He felt lonely and empty.
But he did not know what his problem was.
He did not know what needed to be filled.
When Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus talked about the kingdom of God.
That’s the perfect solution to his life.
The concerns you have in your life are not something that can be solved if your need is fulfilled. (ppt)
Imagine God providing the one thing that you need right now.
After the current problem is solved, would you not encounter any other problem?
Let’s say there is a young man who needs to take a big exam.
If someone asks what his hope is, he would say that he wants to pass the exam because nothing else is important to him at the moment.
So he passed the exam.
Would he have no concerns or hopes after that?
I remember a TV commercial for insurance products.
A very famous celebrity featured it.
A young newly married couple got on an elevator with very happy faces.
But when they get off from the elevator, they have kids on their backs and bags in their hands.
They look hectic and exhausted.
And an announcer says, “now is the time that you need an insurance.”
When a couple is newly married, they think they are so happy and the world is theirs.
However, soon, they encounter so many obstacles, conflicts and problems to resolve.
It’s the same in our life.
We feel like we are going to be happy once that one concern at the moment is resolved.
However, even though what we want is fulfilled, we soon feel lonely and empty.
That’s why Jesus talks about the kingdom of God.
Though we may lack something, though we don’t have everything we want to have, if we can experience the kingdom of God in ourselves, our life will be different. (ppt)
When Jesus talks about the kingdom of God to Nicodemus, Jesus is giving him a challenge.
Jesus’s life is completely opposite from Nicodemus.
Compared to Nicodemus, Jesus has nothing in his possession.
And, at that time, Jesus didn’t have high social status.
He absolutely did not graduate from a prominent school.
He did not even have any money.
He did not come from a good lineage as well.
But, Jesus had the true happiness, freedom and abundance.
In verses 5~8, Jesus talks about those who are born of water and Sprit and explain it with the wind.
And Jesus himself is like the wind. (ppt)
He’s not bound to anything and He exists in the world like the wind.
But, He releases amazing energy from himself and influences the world just like the wind.
His influence is miraculous and holy.
When the wind blows, we can find the trail of it.
When Jesus passes by, we see the trail of Him as well.
How can Jesus be like the wind and not bound by anything?
How can Jesus be so free, abundant, and happy?
Jesus explains himself with the phrase, “the kingdom of God.”
His secret is that He has the kingdom of God. (ppt)
Jesus’ life is not separated from God.
His life is connected to God and achieved in God.
That’s how He can be so happy and He lacks nothing.
We all want to experience the kingdom of God then.
But, not everyone can experience the kingdom of God.
Jesus says, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (ppt)
We have to be born from above to see the kingdom of God.
In the New International Version of the Bible, it says “born again,” but in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the one that we are looking at, says “born from above.”
“Born from above.”
What would that mean?
It means that there is something that we cannot do on our own.
There is something that we cannot do with our own power, with our own strength and with our own ability.
We need something that’s beyond our own ability.
What we know, what we see, what we experience, what we make is not everything in the world.
There is the eternal world. (ppt)
How do we live in this world?
We do not live by our own strength and ability.
We live because God who loves us provides everything we need.
We live by grace, only by grace.
Realizing that fact is being born again, being born from above. (ppt)
The very first astronaut, Gagarin, said,
“Where is God? I’m all the way above from the Earth and I don’t see Him” when he first stepped out of the atmosphere.
However, at the same time, another astronaut who was next to him praised God by saying,
“the Earth that God created is so beautiful.”
Whose life would be happier and more abundant?
Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus said.
And he asked Jesus, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” (ppt)
He tried to understand Jesus only in his world of common sense and intelligence, which were just obstacles to him.
So, Jesus explains again by saying, “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” (ppt)
What helps us to be born gain, to be born from above, and to open our eyes to realize His presence and provision in our life is water and Spirit.
Water and Spirit symbolize baptism.
Being baptized means making a decision to live in Jesus, not in the way of the world.
We can live in the kingdom of God when we surrender ourselves to God, when we live by faith, when the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us.
When we live in the kingdom of God, we are also like the winds so we are free and we are not influenced by what belongs to the world. (ppt)
And our life is overflowed.
Jesus is an excellent example of those who are born again, those who are born from above, those who live in the kingdom of God.
Though Jesus did not have anything in his possession, compared to Nicodemus, Jesus had the true life and committed Himself to God and His kingdom.
However, Nicodemus does not realize or understand it and he asks, “How can these things be?”
I’d like to wrap up the sermon by sharing a story.
Once upon a time, there was a knight. (ppt)
At night, he went around a village waking up the sleeping villagers and asking them if they saw his horse.
The villagers thought he was so silly so could not say anything to him, but in fact, he was riding on his horse when he was asking where his horse was.
Brothers and sisters, what does being born again, being born from above mean?
It’s finding out the horse what we are already riding on! (ppt)
How did we live so far?
We could not live on our own.
We could live by God’s grace and His caring.
Realizing this is being born again.
Realizing this is being born from above.
And we need to live by faith that God who was with us till today is still with us and will continue to be with us. (ppt)
If we walk with Him with this faith, we are already living in His kingdom.
We are living the life that God wants us to live.
I pray for all of us to live our life in His kingdom. Amen.