Beyond the Pulpit: DETTMAN

John 3:1-21

“3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old?

By KATHLEEN DETTMAN
Hettinger Lutheran

John 3:1-21

“3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old?

“I’m too old to change”. It can be frustrating to hear someone dismiss a chance to try something new with these words, especially when you believe a change will do that person good.  How hard can it be to try something new?

Harder than you think. Lately I find the idea “I’m too old to change” sneaking into my mind more and more.  Trying something new can be scary: “what if I don’t like the new?”;  “what if I can’t understand what’s going on?”; “what if I have to give up everything that mattered to me in the past?”;  “what if I fail?”

Perhaps those questions were running through Nicodemus’ mind when Jesus was talking to him.  Nicodemus had come to Jesus to find out if he was the Messiah.  Nicodemus had been waiting for the Messiah for years, but as Jesus talked, he realized that this Messiah was bringing bigger changes that he could have imagined. Nicodemus couldn’t even understand what Jesus was saying when he talked about being born from above.  Nothing he had known or experienced in his life could have prepared him for this new idea.

5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.

Nicodemus might have been tempted to say, “Forget the whole thing—I’m too old for this”, but he didn’t. He kept questioning Jesus and listening to his answers, even when he had a hard time understanding them.  Jesus didn’t give Nicodemus the answers he was expecting, but he gave  him words of challenge and hope.  John 3:15-17 is a powerful assurance of the love and forgiveness God offers through Jesus’ death and resurrection; love and forgiveness that are truly life changing.

Jesus told Nicodemus (and us) that the change necessary to enter the kingdom of God doesn’t come from humans, but from God.  The Spirit gives us new birth from above.  Just as we can’t control the wind but we feel its effects (something we know all about around here),  we can’t control the Spirit, but we can feel the Spirit at work in our lives.  Nicodemus may or may not have been too old to change, but he wasn’t too old to be changed by God.  Christ is the one who brought new life and change to Nicodemus.

We don’t know the exact nature of Nicodemus’ relationship with Jesus, but we do know he was changed by this conversation with Jesus. We don’t know if this change was fast or slow. Whether the change is fast or slow, easy or painful, we know that Jesus is with us, changing us into new people, giving us new birth from above and making us part of  his kingdom.

Lord, help us to remember that we are never too old to be changed by you.  Make us into the people you want us to be that we can serve you and your kingdom. Amen