by Christopher Harbin

This content is part of a series.

Called to the Light (10 of 52)
Series: Discipleship Part 2
Christopher B. Harbin
John 3:11-21

Sometimes we pay attention to the wrong thing. We get used to a certain way of addressing an issue and fail to look beyond where we have been led to look in the past. It may take an outside influence to shock us into a new perspective. That could have been the script for Jesus' and Nicodemus' conversation. Nicodemus came asking questions believing he understood the basic realities of spiritual life and relationship with God. Jesus shocked Nicodemus with several of his responses.

This was rather pro forma for Jesus. He was always calling people into new understandings of life, of God, and the realities of life. In conversing with Nicodemus Jesus kept him disoriented along the whole course of their conversation. Nicodemus came seeking answers in regard to Jesus' message from God, but Jesus' responses did not follow the line of reasoning he expected. Symbols of new birth and a distinction between the spiritual and material were difficult for him to process. Eventually, Jesus shifted to a symbol Nicodemus knew from Hebrew history.

Jesus turned the conversation to an event in the life of Moses. The people had sinned against God and were suffering under a barrage of attacks by poisonous snakes. When they cried out to Yahweh for help, Yahweh told Moses to cast a bronze serpent and place it on a high pole in the middle of the Hebrew encampment. All those who were bitten by snakes were to look at the bronze snake and trust Yahweh for healing. Yahweh called for no sacrifice. Yahweh demanded no repayment for their sin. Yahweh simply instructed them to turn and expect that Yahweh desired to offer them life in the midst of certain death.

Instead of condemnation to death for their sin, they were to expect Yahweh to care for them and overcome the threat on their lives. This was completely unexpected for the Hebrew people. They did not expect to find grace in God. They fu ...

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