1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?
11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized.
23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.
24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification.
26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.
28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’
29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.
33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.
34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.
35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.
36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Entering into a life in Christ is rebirth into a new realm of the Spirit that cannot be understood by earthly education and learning. Many will observe the movements of this new realm, but their attempts to figure it out will be like trying to define the wind’s source. Understanding only comes through participation in it. This isn’t an exclusive club where points are obtained by discerning who is getting it just right and excommunicating those who are not. The truth of the Word can be spoken from various venues and voices. It doesn’t have to align under a common covering for the thoughts of God to be proclaimed with power and eternal impact. John indicates that where Jesus is genuinely declared and lifted up, there will be a decrease in recognition for those who carry His message, not exclusive possession by them of its truth.
There is no legitimacy in dividing Christ’s body over lines of offense. There is one team defined not by its differences but by its commonality around the person of Christ. Only when He is lifted up will true followers be drawn to Him. It will only be those who leave all and follow that are included in His metrics. Whoever and however this message is effectively shared will determine the identity of the roster, not necessarily those gathering the largest crowds. The authentic movements of the Spirit will be observed like the effects of the wind by those who have yet to be reborn. What a greater purpose and impact is realized by those whose vying is only for sharing and imparting new life in Christ with many transformed offspring as their validation.
I find myself marveling at John the Baptist again this morning. We don’t see much of him in the Bible in an in depth view, but man, how he knew exactly who he was and what his job from God was. He could have easily been offended at Jesus’ ministry “infringing” on his, he could have allowed the calling of Jesus to make him question his own importance, he could have taken offense and shut the flow of God off in his life. Yet, he didn’t do any of those things!
He repeated who he was and what calling he had been given. He was completely confident in his own gifting and callings that he didn’t allow any jealousy, any questioning of who he was or of his importance, and he spoke the words that had been spoken to him. He kept what God told him to do in front of him and this falls exactly with what Pastor Stephen spoke on yesterday.
John had a belief that was secured in his heart by what he filled himself with, so when his mouth opened it was confidently full of belief in not only God, but also in Jesus and his earthly ministry. Our beliefs are so important, but even more important is how deeply we believe them. When we face something, are we so rooted in what God said that faith flows from our lips? This is a challenge to me, that I am excited to endeavor to conquer!