Sermon – Lent II
March 16 2014
By Roland Legge
Today we have the wonderful story of Jesus having an encounter with Nicodemus. Who was Nicodemus? Nicodemus was a man who had become a convert to Jesus but was not ready to be public about it because of his high profile in the community. He was a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews and had much to lose if he was seen with Jesus. Yet Nicodemus took a great risk and visited Jesus in the night. They were two men from very different worlds. They spoke a different kind of religious language and so Nicodemus had a hard time understanding Jesus.
Jesus’ intention was to invite Nicodemus to be born of water, be baptized, committing publicly to the community of committed followers of Jesus.
(Born to be Wild by Nancy Hastings Sehested found at www.sojo.net) We will never know if he was baptized.
I like Nicodemus’ curiosity and courage to take the risk to get to know. I wonder how Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus changed his life. The Bible tells us that Nicodemus was one of the people who was with Jesus at his crucifixion. He helped to prepare his body for burial. This too must have taken some courage.
Are we curious to find out who Jesus is, just like Nicodemus? I am always hungry to learn more about Jesus. I am going to share some of my own understandings of Jesus and I hope what I say will help you to name who Jesus is for you.
Jesus was the most God conscious person to live on this planet earth. Many received his gift of love with thanksgiving while many others rejected him because they did not like what he revealed in them. He was so connected to Spirit that he was able to bring healing into many people’s lives by accessing the divine healing energy that is there for all of us. He was able to remove energy blocks in people’s bodies that were causing dis-ease. He was able to help people to see that they are beloved children—men and women of God. He helped people to see the worth in themselves and the worth in each other. He did many acts of healing that today would defy our understandings of science.
But what moves me the most was that Jesus was fully human. He experienced all the challenges and temptations that each of us face. Because of his humanity I can relate to him but Jesus was also in touch with the divine side of himself. The miracles Jesus lived out we all have the capacity to do. If I cannot relate to Jesus I would not find it helpful or meaningful to be a Christian. If what Jesus said could not be lived out by people such as myself I would not bother being a Christian.
So the more I got to know Jesus the more he became a powerful presence in my life. I have found it helpful to learn more about the pre-Easter Jesus. This is the very human Jesus who lived on our earth over 2000 years ago. There are some fine scholars today who have opened this door of understanding for me. Often clergy don’t share such information because we are afraid of offending people. I believe it is very important information to share. One such person is John Dominic Crossan whom I heard in person at Epiphany Explorations in Victoria. Crossan says:
His eating and healing were, in theory and practice, the precise borderline between private and public, covert and overt, secret and open resistance. But it was no less surely resistance for all of that. We know already that he had a magnificent vision of the Kingdom of God here on earth and that by his own actions he already practiced what he preached. The Kingdom of God was not, for Jesus, a divine monopoly exclusively bound to his own person. It began on the level of the body and appeared as a shared community of healing and eating—that is to say, of spiritual and physical resources available to each and all without distinctions, discriminations, or hierarchies.
(Jesus A Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan Harper Collins SanFrancisco 1994 pages 113 – 114)
Crossan is suggesting that Jesus was calling people to walk their talk. Jesus would never ask his followers to do anything they were not willing to do. He was always practicing change through non-violence which went against the grain of Jesus’ society as much as it does ours.
This is just to give you a little taste of all the material out there to help us understand what Jesus may have been like when he lived long ago.
Jesus is much more than that to us. We also believe in the post Easter Jesus. This is the Jesus of faith. This is the mystical understanding we have given to Jesus after he was killed on the cross. It is the story of people trying to make sense of this Jesus and how a messiah could be killed on a cross. It is the story of how people continue to relate to the risen Jesus and find courage, determination, hope, joy and love where none might have been.
Being a Christian is not to believe the correct things about Jesus but to live in the way of Jesus by trying to imagine how he would want us to live. It is listening to God and Jesus through our hearts and acting on that intuitive mystical wisdom. It is living in community with prayer, worship, study, work and play. Being a Christian is allowing Jesus to work through us individually and corporately in our communities so that we can continue to find the abundant life we have been promised where we can continue to know that God has given us all we need and that God needs every one of us.