Messages from Pastor Raddatz

May 30, 2021 TRINITY SUNDAY, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX

John 3:1-17, GOD’S SPIRIT BRINGS NEW BIRTH AND NEW LIFE, Main Idea: Seeing newness as God sees it.

Intro: New things are fun, but their newness can wear off.  You faith can be birthed new each and every day.  It can be alive during old moments daily! In other words, you have been given new birth and new life from above!  How can we keep things new?  I think the key is to focus on the one who makes them new.  Keep your focus on God as your Father, Jesus as your Savior and the Holy Spirit as the one who keeps you in the faith.  


          Being “born again” also means being “born from above”, v. 3

Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, v. 2.  He was a member of the Jewish Ruling Council.  These were the religious leaders who were given the power to judge their own Jewish people while being ruled publicly by the Romans.  He was a Pharisee who was a legalistic and a separatist group.  They were different from the Sadducees who were worldlier and politically minded.   He came at night, because he was probably a little concerned with what people would say. Some theologians also comment, if he wanted to talk to Jesus at length it would be easier to do at night when there would be less people around Jesus.  

A statement of faith is proclaimed by Nicodemus, “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.”  Jesus takes this opportunity to redirect Nicodemus to what God is doing here below because God is always working above us and outside of our circumstances.  He is working out his kingdom through his actions in your life.

          Seeing the kingdom of God and entering the kingdom are actions of God’s Spirit Jesus says that NO ONE can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”.   In v. 5 he says again, “NO ONE can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Notice that first Jesus says, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” then he adds, “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the spirit”.

A lot of people want to see God at work.  That is a good thing.  I am not so sure that everyone wants to enter the kingdom of God.  Seeing can lead to believing, but some people only want to see God work when they are in trouble or a tight spot.  They want God to do his thing.  Often, after they are out of trouble they want to live their life their way.   The next time they get in a difficult spot they will call on God again.  Meanwhile, they kind of want God to leave them alone.  

Entering the kingdom to some people might seem like entering a confining space where they do not feel they can be all they want to be.  In reality, to enter the kingdom of God is the only place where we can be the best we want to be.  The kingdom of God is not stifling, it is freeing.

The writer Paul put it this way, in Colossians 3:1-3, Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (NIV)

Both new birth and new life come from God.  This is why Jesus says, in v. 6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”  You and I can only give birth and give life on earth.  God gives us a spiritual birth.  This birth is given us in our baptism.  It is ours not just every day, but every moment of every day.  God’s grace is like the wind, you cannot see it, and you can only see the effects of the wind, what it moves.  The same is true with God’s Spirit, it keeps coming to us like the wind.  His goodness keeps coming.  It never ends.  You cannot create it, but you can live with it, because it brings forgiveness.  This forgiveness is new life.


          What does the “snake” lifted up by Moses have to do with the “son” being lifted up in v. 14?  Jesus knows every person better than they know themselves, so, he directs Nicodemus to a story every good little Pharisee would know.  This is the story about snakes that bit his ancestors, but also saved from a snake bite if they looked at the snake that their leader put on a pole.  It sounds strange doesn’t it?  It happened.   It is recorded for us in Numbers 21:8f.   While the people were facing a battle they grumbled, because they did not like the direction God was leading them.   So, God allowed snakes to come and bite them.  God also gave them a way out.  He told Moses to make a type of snake, a model and put it on the pole.  Everyone who looked at the snake was spared the poison of the snake.

Snakes are pictured as evil, from the ground while the “Son of Man” is from above=heaven.  Jesus was cursed by our sin, but it is through his suffering on the cross (being lifted up) that we are saved from the poison of our sin.   Jesus does not use images haphazardly.  He always has a reason for what he does and he wants to show us there is more than what our eyes see.  He wants us to see heavenly things.

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, v. 16…  He did not wait for the world to love him backDo you see how God loves all of us?  His son Jesus has to be ‘LIFTED UP’.  This was when Jesus was dying on the cross.  The cross was a place where you knew you were cursed.  You were cursed to die a miserable death.  It was the Roman way of capital punishment.  It was a slow and agonizing death.  But to God, whose view is above men, it was the ultimate place of Jesus glory.   Jesus said in John 12:32, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”  The cross is where we were judged guilty.   The cross is also the place where we were freed from our sin, all at once.  The cross is the place of glory, where the Devil, who is from below, was judged, condemned and driven out of power.  This is why we wear crosses.  It is a cherished image to Christians the world over.

Concl: Remember, God has given you new birth and new life through your baptism.  It is yours each and every day.  You do nothing for it, but you simply and wonderfully get to enjoy it.  Let me ask you, do people see your new birth and your new life?  Is the evidence of your baptism visible?  It isn’t always easy to see with our human eyes.  I would like to suggest something, we start using our eyesight from above more than our eyesight here below.  How can we do this, when we see a stranger we could look at them with earthly eyes or we can look at them with the spiritual eyes.  Each person could be a person who has been birthed from heaven!

It is in you!!!   Celebrate what God has done.  He makes all things new!!  Amen!

SDG, John F. Raddatz

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