Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He 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.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus 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?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The windblows 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.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“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. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“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.
“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.
Nicodemus was a learned man. He knew a lot about religion, politics, and life, and he was elite. He was cream of the crop. He was a man of elite status and yet he did not know the Holy Spirit. Knowing the Holy Spirit is like knowing the wind. Jesus said, “We cannot really know the wind. We hear the sound of the wind but we don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going to go.” The spirit is elusive, uncontrollable, unpredictable and unknowable. We don’t understand exactly how the wind works and we don’t know exactly how the spirit works.
You know whenever I read this passage, I feel freedom. Total freedom. A freedom that comes from a strange sense of empowerment. The life that I tried to control is hard. Very hard and the matter of the fact is that there are not many things in life that you can really control. We can prepare for the future, but the outcome of the future we cannot control. Other people, we cannot control. How they treat us, and how they view us, we cannot control. People hated Jesus and gathered together to plan to kill him and ultimately they crucified Jesus on the cross and yet Jesus did nothing to control them. Because he knew that he could not control them. He could not control how they behaved or sinned. Judas betrayed him. Peter denied him. But Jesus simply accepted them and he did not try to control their behaviours.
There are many things in life as a matter of life that we cannot control. But people love to control. People, they want power because they want to control. They want to control other people, they want to control the situation, they want to control their life. They love to control that’s why they are seeking power. They’re continuously thirsty for power. You need power to be in a position of control. Power of knowledge, financial power, political power. The power over other people. We need powers to be able to control our life, our situation, and other people. You can say that Nicodemus had all these powers as a matter of fact. He was in a position of control but seeing Jesus, Nicodemus had this realization that life itself is not just about control. Seeing Jesus he realized that life is bigger than the life of taking control. That’s why he came to Jesus at night. He was very interested in that different alternative life. What it looked like. What it was like. That’s why he came to Jesus at night. He had never seen that before. He was so used to the life he could control. But he has never seen the life that Jesus.
In the world, there are many people who have no power to control whatsoever in their lives. They don’t even have the power to even control what rightly belongs to them. Like their land, their children, their family, their culture, their history. They do not have control even over things that rightly belong to them. Many of your parents, many of your grandparents experienced that. In their lives, directly by Japanese occupation.
Aboriginal people in this country are in that situation. Palestinians in the Gaza area are in that situation, we will hear more of that today from Amy. They didn’t have the kind of power, they don’t have that kind of power that Nicodemus had. Jesus told Nicodemus, you have to start again, you have to start your life all over again from the beginning. You have to be born again. Jesus taught us that the life of being born again is not the life you control with your own power. The life of being born again is a life that is being led by the Holy Spirit. There is a huge difference between the life you control and the life that is being led by the Holy Spirit. When I look at Jesus life, Jesus was totally controlled by the Spirit and by the time, he often said: “my time has not yet come.” Jesus life was not a life of controlling but a life of being led. He lived a life that was led by the truth, he lived a life that was led by justice, he lived a life that was led by love. There is a radical difference between life controlling and life being led. In their attempt to control their lives, they try to manipulate others and even conquer them. Being led by the Spirit, you don’t need to manipulate others, you don’t need to have power over them, you would rather share that power you have and you will rather empower others who don’t have it.
Tower of Babel was a typical example of people who tried to control their destiny. That was the ultimate mistake that human beings made, recorded in the Bible. Let us read what they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and let us make a name for ourselves otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole Earth.”
Is it a life of being lead? Or a life of controlling? God called Abraham as an example of the future generation where being led by God. Not the people who control their destiny and others. Abraham was the example of how we human beings should live. Faith is not to dictate our life using religious power and political power but to truly follow the guidelines of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will lead us into the truth, the SPirit will lead us to justice, the Spirit will lead us into love. The cross was a symbol of not controlling but a symbol of being led. Jesus prayed like this in Gethsemane and going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me and not what I want but what you want.” Is it a life a controlling? or a life of being led?
We can see clearly that Jesus was led by God, he did not dictate his own life, being called means now we are ready to be led by the Spirit. Every moment we need to be led by the Spirit. In this world, people try to control others, whether in the family or even in the friendship, they try to control others. One nation tries to control other nations, for their own benefits, they try to control the situation, control other people and control nations. They try to maneuver the situation with all the power they can have, to fulfill their will, they will have no problem sacrificing other people even killing them. They do not uphold others lives, their human rights. They try to solve all their problems by the power that they have. With that attitude, we cannot see the kingdom of God or enter it. The life that you try to control ultimately brings destruction and death, but the life that is led by the Spirit will lead us into eternal life. Jesus came to give us life whoever believes in him will be led by it into eternal life. People who are led by the Spirit will create a new world, a new history. The new world of God will not be established by the people who have the power to control, God will call the people who are willing to be led by the Spirit and God will create a new world, a new history, a new Order.
God will bring about God’s justice, the good people who are called and who are led by the Spirit. People who are led by the Spirit will no longer be governed by fear, they don’t fear anymore, they will just follow in the way they are led by the Spirit. They will listen to the voice of the Spirit, they don’t know where the Spirit comes from or where the Spirit is going to, but they will obey the voice, the voice of the Spirit. Let us always pray. Let us listen to the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will need to hear him. We will hear after service from Amy, I hope that we all be able to hear the voice of the Spirit. What God wants to do in this world. Jeremiah said this, “Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” God will show us great and hidden things. Let us hear attentively the voice of the Spirit.