April 13th, 2021

The Gospel according to John (3:7b-15) 

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
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 answered and said to him,
‘How can this happen?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Opening Prayer: Father God, please help me to pause for a moment and listen for the sound of Your voice through this reading today.  Speak to me and show me the tasks You have set aside just for me.  Amen.

Encountering Christ:

Today’s Gospel continues the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, one of the leaders of the Pharisees.  Nicodemus had to have a tremendous knowledge of the Mosaic law, but when you read the third chapter of John’s Gospel, you can see that he doesn’t quite “get” what Jesus is saying to him.  All I can say to that is: “join the club”.

Jesus’ mission on Earth was quite simple: He was sent to demonstrate God’s love, to reach out to those who were outcast, and to give His life in ransom for the sins of all.  When I think about my own faith, and relate it to those three points, I definitely see my faith as showing me the way to God and to being His witness of His great love.  It’s an easy thing to say, but much harder to do in real life.  Love is not neat and tidy – it is messy, especially when experienced between two flawed and fragile human beings. 

Love is like the spirit that Jesus describes to Nicodemus, where it blows wherever it wills, but we don’t know where it comes from or where it goes.  Love means being willing to go like the wind, maybe someplace you don’t really want to go.  Sometimes, the wind is strong, and other times it is a gentle breeze.  When the wind is pushing us, it can be very difficult to walk a path against it. 

In the conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus speaks of heavenly things, but Nicodemus could only see them from his own earthly perspective.  We see that in his response to Jesus: “how can this happen?”  He was so caught up in the laws and the practices that he missed the love that all those laws and practices were intended to highlight.  He was certainly a very good Jew, but he only saw one side of the God he served.

Jesus was trying to open his mind to more.  He is trying to do that with each of us every day, too.  Each day, Jesus calls each of us to live a life of love and of service.  It can be as simple as doing a kind deed without being asked, such as making coffee for your spouse, or writing a note to your child, or calling someone and asking how that person is feeling.  We don’t have to change the world with our acts of kindness, but the truth is that doing them *will* change the world.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not.  I don’t think I will quote it exactly, but there’s a line in the film “The Shack” that goes something like, “each time we don’t judge and act out of love, the world changes for the better.”  Our small acts do change the world even if just a bit.  And when that happens, God’s kingdom comes just that little bit closer.  We won’t necessarily do that every day.  No, some days, we can make it seem that God’s kingdom is far, far away.  That’s okay.  God allows us all the chances we could ever ask for to do His will just a bit better, and to bring His love to those around us. 

As we continue in our journey of Easter joy, can we try to love more and to “change the world for the better” by doing so?  Who do you need to love more and better?  Pause right now and think of that person, and ask our loving Lord for His grace to share that love with that person today.

Closing Prayer: Lord, thank You for loving me.  Thank You for never giving up on me.  Help me to be a presence of love and light in a world of so much darkness.  Help me never give up on You, too, that I may bring Your love to life in my life today and always.  Amen.

Action for the Day: Show love to someone who especially needs it today.  If you’re not sure who that is, ask God to show you! 

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