West Point Grey United Church
Mar 10, 2024

The Big Question

John 3:1-21

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jewish people. He obviously wanted to speak with Jesus and didn’t want his friends and colleagues to know he was doing this. So late at night, he found Jesus alone and had a brief conversation. It is pretty obvious that he didn’t understand everything Jesus was saying to him, speaking about the need to be born all over again if you were really going to be part of the kingdom of God. Finally Nicodemus asks the question “HOW CAN THESE THINGS BE ?”

I wonder what Nicodemus was thinking about when he walked back to his home that evening? The fact is we never hear anything further about Nicodemus in the Bible except that he is in the crowd that gathers when Jesus is crucified. According to John’s Gospel right after Nicodemus asks his big question “How can these things be?”, Jesus responds with the most famous verse in the entire  Bible – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Trying to understand the full meaning of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus about the need to be born again, or born from above, is for most people a life-long challenge. As a teen-ager I remember serious conversations with wise, thoughtful elders at the end of church youth club gatherings. Some of these confident, sincere Christians were sure that to be a real Christian I would have to be born again. It was a simple formula …. I needed to be “saved”. I gradually came to believe that it wasn’t that simple, that a faithful response to Jesus’ words was anything but simple. And we don’t  really know what conclusion Nicodemus came to.

But we do know that in this season of Lent we are called to think seriously about our own response to who Jesus is for us, and what it means to be a faithful disciple. We read that “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” If we believe in him, we are challenged to show our response not just with words, but in our actions. Jesus also says that when we respond faithfully, we live in the light, not in darkness.

Have you seen the light? The answer comes not in our words, but in our actions.

Have we reached out with generous thought and care to the people and the causes that need our support? Have we taken the time to visit the long-time friend who is going through a challenging and discouraging time at present? Have we been willing to devote our time and talent to projects in our church or community that will make life easier for others? Have we responded to the horrors of violence and warfare in the Ukraine and the Middle East with our prayers and support?

We have been blessed as part of this faith community to hear the words of faith and hope, and to be strengthened by the faithful actions of all those who have reached out to us in our times of need. Encouraged by the light of Christ that shines on our pathway, may we move forward as faithful disciples of Jesus.