The Gospel of Nicodemus

Next weekend I get to preach at my brother’s church in Little Rock, Arkansas (can I get a yee-haw?  Ok.  That’s enough).

It’s exciting to be able to bring the Word and serve the church that has been ministering to my bro and his wife these last few years.  In preparation I’ve decided to share a few of my thoughts from the sermon I’m preparing.

Our text will be John 2:23-3:15 wherein Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night to inquire as to his Messianic aspirations.  I’ve decided to preach on it by asking the text to answer 3 questions for me:
1. Who is Jesus?
2. Who is Nicodemus?
3. How should I respond?

My favorite preachers, and I think the best kind of preaching, forces us to ask similar questions.  I dare say that the foundation of preaching is to provoke such considerations and answer them from the Scriptures.

“Who is God?”
“In light of who God is, who am I?”
“In light of what I now know about God and about myself, how should I respond?”

Let’s use today’s post to allow John 2:23-3:15 (read it HERE if you wish) to answer the question,
“Who is Jesus?”

How prone we are to pass up the opportunity to dwell on, to pause, and to reflect on Jesus Christ when approaching territory as “familiar” as John 3.  Do we consider often enough how worthy Jesus Christ is of our stillness, meditation and consideration?
I think not.  I think instead we are prone to Nicodemus’ mistake and simply ask how Jesus can better my own situation – but more on that later.
It seems to me we sprint past the most sublime of opportunities when we do not pause to simply consider and answer the question, “Who is Jesus?”

John tells us in his prologue that Jesus is The Word made flesh (John 1:14).  He tells us that he is God incarnate, the primary way that God now speaks to his people and reveals himself to the world.
John 1:18 says,

“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

In Jesus Christ, God is known, because Jesus Christ is God!  The Apostle Paul tells us that this man, Jesus Christ, is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).”

It is confusing, and mind-blowing, and nearly unimaginable that, apparently, our foremost and primary activity in Heaven will be to fall to our knees as we see and consider this Jesus.  Our foremost and primary activity in Heaven seems not to be the reunion with loved ones past, nor the enjoyment and consumption of redeemed earthly pleasures such as mountain streams or choice foods, but rather the gazing upon and worship of the Lamb who was slain.

Together we will sing,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

and,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

and again,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,

O Lord God the Almighty!

Just and true are your ways,

O King of the nations!

Who will not fear, O Lord,

and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy.

All nations will come

and worship you,

for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

This, among many other reasons is why the Apostle Paul can stop and consider Jesus Christ and say, “7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

We will certainly be blessed by God in Heaven with the reunion of loved ones past and the pleasures of a redeemed and perfect creation, but Paul, in the anticipation of the life to come counts one thing as his supreme goal, reward, and pleasure. Jesus Christ.

Consider the grace of Jesus Christ to appear to us as he did, in such an approachable fashion. How much differently could the conversation in John 3 have been if Nicodemus truly considered who he was speaking with?

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2 thoughts on “The Gospel of Nicodemus

  1. Is there a particular book or author who uses those three questions to form their sermons? I'd be interested in reading a book on preaching wherein the sermon structure is shaped by those questions.

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  2. I don't know to be honest. I've just been coming back to this passage in John 3 for the last year or so and when I sat down to write something on it this past month it hit me that the best preaching I've ever heard in some way or another answers all three of these questions.
    I imagine there are plenty of preachers (and preaching books) that think and write this way, I just haven't heard any body say the way I've said it here.

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