Today’s Reading: John 2:13 – 3:36
“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” – John 2:19-20
This was the conversation that occurred between Jesus and the Jewish leaders when he chased the money-changers and vendors out of the Temple in Jerusalem. Passion for God’s house consumed Jesus and he took action to make a change. The Jewish leaders demanded an explanation – no, a miraculous sign – to prove Jesus had authority to do this. When he offered them one, they did not believe him and so they missed out on an opportunity. All they had to do was believe, but they chose unbelief instead.
Later, one of the Jewish leaders came after dark to speak with Jesus. Nicodemus had seen the miraculous signs Jesus was performing among the people and knew that Jesus was sent by God, but he still had questions.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” – John 3:3-4
Jesus was speaking of spiritual rebirth but Nicodemus was stuck in the physical or literal explanation. He lacked an understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and he lacked the faith he needed to take Jesus at his word.
Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t BELIEVE me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly BELIEVE if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who BELIEVES in him will have eternal life.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who BELIEVES in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
“There is no judgment against anyone who BELIEVES in him. But anyone who does not BELIEVE in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” –John 3:10-21
Day or night, light or dark, belief or unbelief. We have a choice to believe and walk into the light or not believe and stay in the dark. When we truly believe, we step into the light with a willingness to let our sins be exposed. Jesus meets us there, not to judge our sins but to save us from our sins and offer us eternal life – SPIRITUAL REBIRTH.
“…The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who BELIEVES in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” – John 3:35-36
These are the words of John the Baptist regarding Jesus. His disciples had come to him concerned that everybody was going to Jesus to be baptized instead of coming to John and his disciples. John, who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, spoke with confidence of God’s plan.
“It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few BELIEVE what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit…” – John 3:29-34
Still today we live in a society where few truly believe in God. We have a choice – to believe and allow God to transform our lives through spiritual rebirth OR to not believe and continue to focus on earthly things. When we have doubts, we can either focus on the struggle or focus on Jesus in the midst of the struggle. He holds the answers and can help us get through our struggles. He can allow the struggle to strengthen our faith.
The movies God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2 challenged people to either confirm that they BELIEVE in God or admit they have given up on the struggle and choose unbelief. Debates on whether there really is a God can be heard across social media, college class discussions and coffee shop conversations. If someone told you to come to the front of the class and convince those around you of God’s existence, would you? Better yet, could you?
If you struggled with doubts but came out strong in your faith as a result of the struggle, it is necessary to now equip yourself for the conversations God is going to place before you. Let’s be ready to share why we BELIEVE what we BELIEVE. If you are still in the midst of the struggle to BELIEVE, trust someone with those doubts. Focus on Jesus in the midst of the doubts and allow Him to reveal Himself to you. Let Him give you a rebirth or new life experience that will help you to experience His presence and give you faith that God is most definitely not dead.