Speaking Of Life 2015 | The Whole World
When reading scripture, it is often helpful to take a step backward and forward—to look at a scripture from a bird’s eye view. Jesus’ most quoted saying is John chapter 3 verse 16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
Jesus made this powerful, inclusive statement in the middle of a personal conversation. Who was he talking with? Nicodemus, an elite Jewish teacher who was part of the ruling class. It is amazing how Jesus was willing to meet with Nicodemus on his terms – teacher to teacher. The concept that an actual second birth was required to enter the eternal kingdom totally stupefied Nicodemus, and I am certain that he dwelt on this for quite some time.
The encounter with Nicodemus makes sense that Jesus being Jewish would engage other Jews, and especially a leader who would have influence. But let’s notice the progression.
The next story is the longest one-on-one conversation with Jesus we have recorded. The woman at the well. This woman was a topic of much gossip—married five times and shacking up with a man she’s not married to.
Add to this that she was a Samaritan. This was the heretical off-center group that had constant tension with their Jewish cousins. So, what in the world is Jesus the Rabbi doing talking to a Samaritan, and to amplify concern, this is a woman? Upstanding Rabbis don’t do this.
Even though the Samaritan people embraced Jesus and wanted him to stay for as long as he would like, after a couple of days he and the disciples made their way north to Cana. Jesus heals an official’s son with a short phrase: “Go, your son will live.”
This officer was serving in Herod’s court and could’ve been either Jew or Gentile, and no doubt a wealthy aristocrat. And yet he could do nothing with his means to save his dying child. Jesus was his last hope and yet his best hope.
As Jesus walked this earth, he wasn’t satisfied with simply making the sweeping statement that his Father so loved the world – from a distance.” The Father’s love was demonstrated through the flesh and blood expression of his one and only son. Jesus demonstrated that he came for the “whole world” in three fascinating encounters that we see in just two chapters of scripture.
So, what became of Nicodemus
38 …With Pilate’s permission, he (Joseph of Arimathea) came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. (John 19:38-39 NIV)
The Jewish teacher who first approached the Son of God under the cover of darkness, now boldly appears with other believers to claim the body of Jesus for burial. Just as the love of the Father through the Son emboldened and transformed Nicodemus, may we too be transformed!
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life