Second Sunday in Lent – Sermon 238

8th January 2016 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

2nd Sunday in Lent

10.00am Holy Communion CW

16th March 2014

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start


May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ.





Who saves?


What must I do to inherit eternal life?


How can a man be born again when he is old?


Questions from people in the Gospels seeking assurance from Jesus about salvation and eternal life


Questions that we too – have asked from time to time.


In our Gospel reading we have such questions from Nichodemus


Point 1        Judaism is not enough


Nichodemus was a teacher – a Pharisee and member of the Jewish Council –


Pharisees spent their lives observing every detail of the law – They followed their system of rules and regulations – to the book –


Written by Scribes – they had rules to govern every conceivable situation in life – telling people what they can – and can’t do


Nichodemus – came to Jesus by night – so he wouldn’t be seen – He was attracted by the miracles that Jesus had performed


He believed that – everything that was needed – for life and salvation  – was given in the Torah – the first 5 books of the Bible – but Jesus was teaching something different  –  and he wanted to know what it was –


The Judaism that Nichodemus and Jesus knew had a lot to do with being born in the right family – and what mattered to Jews was being a child of Abraham –


In our OT reading we have an encounter between Abraham and God – in which God promises – to bless Abraham – and make him a great nation – and to bless those that came after him – who bless him – in other words his generations to come –


This was in response to Abraham’s faith –


We might think that encounters between God and Abraham must have been frequent – for him to have received and accepted such a promise – and blessing


But in fact – God spoke to him of this once in 25 years – and although Abraham goes through a number of crises – his exchanges with God are very infrequent  – but his faith was so strong that he was prepared to leave his home country  –  and father’s house –to fulfil God’s wishes –


and for Nichodemus a child of Abraham – that-  promise made by God – to Abraham – was where it all started – and as far as he was concerned  – it meant that he too would be blessed –- that his blood link with Abraham – would be enough to bring him salvation –


But Jesus tells him you need more than being a member of a family tree – or knowing about and obeying a set of rules – to be saved –


salvation in the Kingdom of God requires a “new birth” – a fresh start – a new beginning  – and such a change is possible only by belief in the Son of Man – in Jesus Himself


Just as Abraham had faith and responded to God’s promises – so we must have faith and respond to the promises of His Son –


Point 2        through Jesus we inherit eternal life


Inheriting something through Faith – is very different to inheriting something through your family line-


One depends on who we are and where we came from – the other depends on who we want to be like and where we are going –


Inheriting through faith is not about receiving something because we think we have a right to it – but about accepting it knowing that we don’t –


In other words – Trusting totally in Jesus – and admitting that He knows what’s best for our future


Nichodemus understood God to be the loving Father of His nation – but as Paul writes – through Jesus – God has re-classified the world as a ‘Holy Land’ – and spread His Kingdom of love and blessings to everyone –


Jesus invites us all – to change – to see things in a different light and follow His ways –


God Loves and cares for us – but He cannot love our sins – and to show how important it is not to sin – He sent His only Son – into the world – to demonstrate the true nature of His love  – and to enable us to see and understand the true impact that our sins can have on Him and on others –


Our sins can harm and change people’s lives – they can also harm and change our lives – The Father sacrificed His Son – so we can step back from that harm – and be saved –


Although without sin or fault – Jesus was sent to die on the cross – like the sacrificial lamb – to pay the ultimate price for our mistakes – but through His death – He also showed us a way to life


By acknowledging Jesus’ death as an act of love by God – and accepting our part in it –we open ourselves to receive forgiveness – and by accepting forgiveness and change – we receive God’s gift of a place in His kingdom-


Salvation is only possible – through one channel – Jesus Himself – only through Him – can we be saved – Jesus is the ladder between earth and heaven –


When the Isrealites sinned in the wilderness through disbelief – they were afflicted by serpents and many died – except those who believed God would heal them –

In the same way – Jesus is lifted up for all to see –  through the image of the cross – so we might be rescued – God provided the antidote for the serpents bite – and He sends His son to counter the bite of Sin –


Point 3        We need to be ‘born again’


but if we want to be saved we need to change !

not only do we need to look to the Son – we have to be “born again” –  “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and of Spirit” –


Water birth – or baptism by water was started by John the Baptist and continued by Jesus’ disciples


Baptism in the spirit is what is offered by Jesus – He brings new life bubbling from within –


We cannot be born of the Spirit by ourselves –

“flesh can give birth to flesh; but it is Spirit that gives birth to spirit” – Only Jesus can send the Holy Spirit upon us –


The kingdom is open to all – through Jesus but unless we are born ‘from above’ – and receive the Holy Spirit – we cannot even see the Kingdom of God – let alone enter it –


Those who remain in the flesh – never enter the kingdom –


Those who become ‘Temples for the Holy Spirit’ and are led by Him are welcomed in the Kingdom


People who are born of the Spirit – do not act according to the rules of the world – they follow the rules of the Kingdom – like the wind that blows – they appear unpredictable –


God is starting a new family – in which ordinary birth is not enough – only those who accept the Father – and the Son and the Spirit – will be welcomed in –




Lent is a time for each one of us – to re-examine our commitment to our Christian Faith – a time for us to look again – at our relationship with God – and  to make a  step – from where – we are –  to where God – wants us to be



Jesus tells us that for our salvation we need all of God’s love – We should not be like Nichodemus and concentrate on only one aspect of His grace –


God is making something new from us – He has shown us a history of faithfulness – and love – and despite our disobedience – is ready to show us the way forward – through His Son and His Spirit –


Jesus is the link between earth and heaven – through Him we are reborn – and – it’s only by looking to Jesus – that we will live


Closing prayer


In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,   Amen