John 3: 1-3,14-17 (NIV) Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. " ... "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Nicodemus knew that Jesus was from God because of the miracles he had performed. Jesus had proven who he was by healing people and raising the dead. Nicodemus had a faith based on the evidence, not just wishful thinking. We base our faith on this same evidence, especially the evidence that he rose from the dead.
Jesus told him he must be born again. When Nicodemus expressed that he did not understand, Jesus explained that we are born once naturally, but we must be born spiritually too, to enter into heaven. Something must happen. That something is we must believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be and put our trust in him. In other words, we must believe in him. This is not just head knowledge, it is real faith that changes us. A real faith that causes us to call on him to save us and to surrender our lives to him.
Jesus referred to the snake in the desert. The people had to look at the bronze snake for healing. We look to Jesus for our spiritual healing. Jesus was also prophesying that he would be lifted up on a cross to pay for our sins.
God wants everyone to be saved, but we each must believe in him. When we reach the point where we understand, it is up to us to choose to believe. God allows us to make that choice and offers eternal life for all who do.
Craig Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek United Methodist Church in Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in Pert. Sunday services are at 9:30 at Brushy Creek and 11 a.m. at Pert. See more of his columns at www.instantmessagelive.com.