Posted: 16 Mar 2012 06:40 AM PDT
"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" (John 3:16).
These are Jesus' own words, spoken to Nicodemus, a Pharisee who came to Jesus "by night" to interrogate him on his teachings and his origin. Nicodemus, a learned and respected leader of the Jews, is unable to understand what it means to have his earthly body born again in faith. Jesus says to him, "No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit…Do not be astonished that I say to you ‘you must be born from above.'" Nicodemus' last words in this passage are, "How can these things be?"
How much like Nicodemus are we? Nicodemus was a devout man of the law. Though he was constrained and burdened by his devotion to keeping the law, it was familiar and predictable. Though we read and hear Jesus' words, do they make sense to us when they are held against all our earthbound concerns and experiences, our own "laws"? Are we incredulous like Nicodemus? Do we resist being "born of water and Spirit" because the concept is just so unfamiliar? Do we keep trying to prove to God and to ourselves that we are worthy of salvation because it is a familiar burden?
John 3:16 is the very distillation of the Easter message. God gave us his Son. We did not ask for salvation through the crucifixion, yet God made the earthly sacrifice of his holy Son so that we, his very mortal sons and daughters, might have eternal life with him as a result. There is no greater gift possible from God, and all we have to do to have eternal life is accept that gift. Nothing is required of us beyond pure acceptance. Paul states in Galatians 4:4-5, "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children." We are freed from our earthly "laws" though the infinite Easter grace of God.
Lord, lead us in this Lenten season to fully accept your perfect gift of your Son. He overcame the law and, indeed, even overcame death under the law, so that we might have eternal life through his sacrifice. We have nothing to prove to you. You proved it for us on Easter morning. Thank you.
Wingate Jackson Jr., member of Marble Collegiate