Great Plains Daily Devotional for 3/13/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Brian Faust
Chester UMC
Hebron: First UMC
Prairie Rivers District
Joe Krepel
Columbus, NE First UMC
Prairie Rivers District
Cindi Stewart
Columbus, NE First UMC
Prairie Rivers District
Dan Spearow
Bellwood UMC
David City St Luke's UMC
Prairie Rivers District

Today's Lectionary Text

John 3:1:13

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He 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.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus 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?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 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.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

Today's Devotional

In today’s reading, we hear the familiar story of Nicodemus, who comes at night to talk to this amazing new teacher. I connect with Nicodemus because I also lean heavily on logic and reasoning in my interactions with the world. Nicodemus is convinced that this teacher is something special because he has seen and heard of the miraculous things that Jesus has done. Nicodemus is educated and a leader in his Jewish community. So it makes sense to this Pharisee that Jesus has come from God.

But Jesus challenges Nicodemus to think beyond his logic and reasoning as they relate to the physical world. Jesus tells Nicodemus that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Nicodemus responds exactly as I would — “that’s not physically possible!” And Jesus then attempts to teach Nicodemus about the difference between earthly things and heavenly things. For someone like Nicodemus (and me), such discussions can be a challenge.

I did not seriously engage the Bible or the church until I was in my late 20s. I spent most of my formative years as a self-described agnostic and skeptic. I’m still quite skeptical, to be honest. As such, I’m quite empathetic to my agnostic and atheist friends and family members. Sometimes the stories that we read in the Bible seem quite preposterous when read in a literal and earthly sense. What I have come to understand (and continue to discern) is how much more there is to reality than the literal and earthly. That seems to be Jesus’ message to Nicodemus and us.

Did Nicodemus get it? The passage we read today doesn’t really say. We read later in chapter seven that he is defending Jesus before other Jewish leaders. And we read in chapter nineteen that he is one of the persons who accompanied Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus after his crucifixion. So we have good reason to believe that Nicodemus was at least still processing Jesus’ teaching and seeking to learn more. Did he understand? Do we understand? I’m rooting for him and for us.
--Randall Hodgkinson, Topeka
Associate Conference Lay Leader

 

Prayer for Reflection

 Loving God, help us to keep working to understand our physical world and the heavenly world and the differences between them and strengthen us to keep our mind and spirit in the right one, even when are drawn by so many forces the other way. Amen.
 

 

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