Going Deeper 05.28.2021

The Gospel reading for Holy Trinity Sunday... John 3:1-17
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 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. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Nicodemus has received a ton of criticism over these many subsequent generations for seeming to be afraid, weak, ignorant.  He is afraid to be seen by his peers, so he went "to Jesus by night."  And Nicodemus seems slow to understand.  Yet instead of criticizing him, I find myself wanting to thank Nicodemus.  It's nice to know I'm not the only one who can be afraid, weak, and ignorant.  

And I see Jesus responding to my shortcomings in the same way... challenging, but not condemning; gently, yet also firmly, teaching in relatable ways which can both blow my mind and increase my understanding; and always leading me back to the Gospel of grace.

I have come to see this as being a healthy way of responding to the stories of human weakness and failures which comprise so much of the Scriptures.  Yes, I can sometimes be inclined to critique and condemn, shaking my head while looking down my nose at all of the forgetfulness, ignorance, and just plain sinful weaknesses on display through the narrative.  But I have come to understand that I would almost certainly done or thought the same way if I were in that situation.  My own track record proves that to be so.  There is only one hero in the Bible, one hero in history... and that obviously isn't me!  God alone is flawless.

I'd encourage you to end this devotional by watching this music video, featuring the song "Broken Things"... 



​Broken & Healed with You, 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"