Weekly e-Devotion: May 25 Edition

John 3:1-17

Gospel Lesson for 
May 27

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He 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.” 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? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The 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.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11“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. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.16 “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. 17“‘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.”

   The first Scripture memory verse of my life was John 3:16, “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.”  This has been a verse I have clung to since childhood as the surety of my eternal destiny.  The verse that has been somewhat neglected follows right after: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world…(v.17).” That sentiment is easily forgotten as we seek to discern the principalities and powers, sift out the sin from the sinner and deal with all the various vagaries of seeing “through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12).”
    The entire context surrounding John 3:16 is about Nicodemus—a religious leader—struggling with the concept of being born again.  He came to Jesus in the dead of night, that betwixt and between time when we often have our sleepless struggles with ourselves and God.  Nicodemus was a practical man, a man on his way up and with authority to make things happen.  He came to Jesus asking a lot of “how” questions.  In the church of my youth, his questions would have been answered by “The Four Spiritual Laws” or some similar formula for salvation.  Jesus was keenly aware that Nicodemus’ questions had answers that were not quantifiable. He was seeking answers about meaning, not achievement; about faith not formula; about identity not titles. No bullet-points for success, but rather the unimaginable invitation into life with God!
We veteran Christians might be lured into thinking we know all there is to know about Jesus, about God, about how to live the Christian life.  We’ve heard John 3:16 perhaps for decades.  As with Nicodemus, God still asks us to set aside what we think we know and listen again to what he wants to tell us.  Romans 8:13 warns us that to live “according to the flesh” is certain death, but to live according to the spirit is life indeed. Luther was right, of course, that John 3:16 is the “gospel in a nutshell.” “For God so loved the world,” not “for God was so angry with the world.” We begin not so much as sinners who are lost but as children who have been found.
This Sunday is the day on which we celebrate a theological concept—the Trinity.  Concepts can be hard to engage because, by definition, they are cerebral rather than experiential or emotional…unless you have already experienced the reality that the concept reflects.  In the case of the Trinity, that reality is the ever-present activity of God in the world and in our lives. Three specific realities of how we experience God are contained in the Trinity: God the Father and Creator of all things, God the Son, our Savior and example, and God the Holy Spirit in us and with us, sustaining all creation and empowering our ability and desire to be God’s own. As love is the core of our God, so the Trinity expands that vision to a “family of love” and we know ourselves to be God’s adopted and beloved children and heirs!
God initiates our life; we do not give birth to ourselves no matter how many “makeovers” we have attempted. Pr. Tom Long, reflecting on the ministry of fellow Presbyterian pastor John Buchanan, once shared a story of Pr. Buchanan’s baptism of a two-year old boy. After addressing the child in Trinitarian language, “You are a child of God, sealed by the Spirit in your baptism, and you belong to Jesus Christ forever,” the child looked up at him and responded, “Uh-oh.”
We laugh…and then we may be forced to agree with that assessment! For baptism is the moment when we are born anew into the family of God, even as that first water in our mother’s womb carried us out into the family of humankind. As we ponder this most elusive mystery of God, one-in-three, let us not forget that God is also Abba! Father! to those of us re-born by God’s Spirit. For God so loves the world…

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at phoeger@allsaintsphoenix.org or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


 Heavenly Father, I praise you for so loving the world, including me! Bring me to eternal life, through Christ. Amen

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Bible Readings

May 27
Trinity Sunday  
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Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17 *

June 3
2nd Sunday after Pentecost 
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1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)

Psalm 81:1-10
2 Corinthians 4:5-12
Mark 2:23-3:6

 * eDevotion Bible text(s)

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Genesis 21:8-21 and Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
Jeremiah 20:7-13 and Psalm 69:7-10, (11-15), 16-18
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

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