(Crosspost from Adventagain.blogspot.com)
As I carefully make my list of gifts and decorations and parties and goings-on I seem to always experience something unexpected. My best laid plans get upended by some unexpected happening.
Nicodemus seems to have had a similar experience in this part of the story. As Scott mentioned on Sunday, Nicodemus risked a night visit to see Jesus. I'm fairly confident that he had played out a scenario in his head of how the visit might go. He certainly had his opening statement well prepared..."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."
But the unexpected happened when Jesus responded with such an odd statement.
In reply Jesus declared, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”Suddenly the conversation took a turn Nicodemus or us could never have expected. This Jesus... he's always taking us to the unexpected places where our minds have a hard time bending around His truth. I begin to look closely at the words in my Bible but specifically the beginning of verse 3. "In reply Jesus declared..." To declare means to state emphatically and authoritatively. Jesus knew this truth to be the essence of his purpose on earth. Our key to salvation is to accept and confess and acknowledge that He is Savior and God and to be spiritually born again.
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
I made this born again decision when I was in the 7th grade. Since that time I've learned a lot in my faith journey or perhaps it might be better said that more has been revealed about my great, daily need for a Savior! So now in my forty-fourth year of being a Christ-follower, I like to think of being born again as also a daily yielding to Him. The recognition of our great need allows each of us to be remade into the dream God has for us...to be born again every day.
Now unexpectedly, I heard a new whisper this morning while I was writing. A whisper about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus and this Christmas season. A whisper that said, Jesus was Born Again too. And in this celebration of Christmas that is exactly what we are celebrating: Jesus being born or His being born again. I'm confused! Are you??
In John 1 we learn that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." And then in John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
This is why Jesus could speak so authoritatively to Nicodemus for He, Jesus had experienced a rebirth. A rebirth from leaving his heavenly home to being born to earth through a virgin named Mary. The God of the universe somehow squeezed Himself into the physical body of a baby and has been born again for us. Henri Nouwen penned these words regarding Jesus birth: "Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness. I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power; but over and over again I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind."
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.I ask you today to explore what that means for you this Christmas. The parallel between our call to be born again and the fact of Jesus' birth as a 'born again' event has quite taken me unexpectedly today.
My Christmas lists have overshadowed the fact of Jesus' 'born again' experience in the stable. The rush from the fields to find the Christ child seems the only appropriate expression. Rush from what I'm doing today, find Him - the born again God, coming to meet us in our world so that we could finally understand and finally, ultimately FIND Him. And be born again.