Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He 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." 3Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." 4Nicodemus 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?" 5Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' 8The wind blows 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." 9Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16For 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.
17Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
There's A Wildness in God's Spirit
I do not have a manuscript for this sermon. I invite you to listen to the recording. I have written some notes from my preparations bellow.
The power of the Holy Spirit continued to occupy and stir up my imagination throughout the week leading up to this sermon. I was particularly captured by John 3:8 - "The wind blows 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."
The Holy Spirit draws into a way of life that renews and reshapes us. The Spirit leads us into places and experiences that we could never have imagined. That the is power of God and the result of our new life in Christ. God's possibilities reshape and redefine what is possible for us in this world.
We cannot control the Holy Spirit. Jesus is pretty blunt about this in his conversation with Nicodemus. The Spirit operates outside of human control and full understanding.
A few thoughts from Luke Timothy Johnson (Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church).
“God as Holy Spirit moves ahead of human action and calculation and is capable of doing new things that are beyond human capacity or understanding (Johnson, 65).”
“At the most basic level, this perception (Holy Spirit as the symbol for the living God) leads the church - and every individual within the assembly - to grasp that the church is not answerable to itself or to its traditions, but to the presence and power that presses upon it at every moment (Johnson, 66).”
“If paying attention to the Holy Spirit’s work in the world is risk-filled, the failure to recognize the work of God in the world is more dangerous by far (Johnson, 67).”