1 Nicodemus (Relationship not Religion)
My nan was not impressed, when I told her I had become a Christian. “You are Catholic, you were Christened at St Mary’s Church”, she said. My response was, “Nan, it’s not about the church you go to, its about ‘relationship not religion’, it’s about knowing Jesus”. My nan was brought up to follow what the priest told her. He would come to the house each week to collect money and she followed much of what she was told.
She never read her Bible and swore more than anyone else I knew. For many years my nan remained resistant to my conversations encouraging her to get to know Jesus for herself.
A few months before she died, my Dad contacted me and said this, “Your Nan, asked me a question which I could not answer, so I told her to speak to you”. I went to see my Nan, and she said, “I was reading the Bible (that was a shock to me as I had never known her to do this before), and I read something I did not understand....you must be born again, what does that mean?” Wow, I thought, God you are amazing.
‘You must be born again’, comes from John chapter 3 v 3, but to gain a better understanding we need to read John chapter 3 verses (1-21). The story talks about Nicodemus’s encounter with Jesus. He was a Pharisee (someone who was very zealous for ritual and religious purity according to the laws of Moses and traditions. Pharisee’s represented the orthodox core of Judaism and were very influential amongst the common people of Israel), and Nicodemus was also a ruler of the Jews (member of the Sanhedrin- rabbis who had religious, civil and criminal jurisdiction over a city). It is clear that Nicodemus was a man held in high esteem, but it is very
interesting that he came to see Jesus secretly at night, with many questions. He saw the miracles that Jesus did, heard His amazing teaching and wanted to know more.
Who He was?
How and why was God using Him so powerfully. Jesus, however, saw straight through Nicodemus’s questioning and spoke directly to the core of the matter.... “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
As we read on Jesus explains what that means, and the importance of salvation, expressed clearly in the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3 v 16:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” My nan asked me the question.......’what does it mean to be born again?’ In simple terms I explained, we have a natural birth to be born on the earth, that’s being born the first time. But we are separated from God by our sin (the things we do wrong). So, to be born again, is us asking for God’s forgiveness (repenting), and accepting that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin, then our spirit becomes alive to God, we are born again. We are born of the flesh, and of the spirit (2nd birth or born again). Like Nicodemus we can have great knowledge of religion and even the Bible, but Christianity is much more than head knowledge. It is about a personal relationship with God, which is possible through knowing Jesus.