H. Nouwen’s Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

From John 3

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

OVERCOME FEAR
 
Nicodemus admired Jesus but was afraid to lose the respect of his own colleagues. I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of looking at these fearful sympathizers because that is the group I find myself mostly gravitating toward.
I love Jesus but want to hold on to my own friends even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus but I want to hold on to my own independence even when that independence brings me no real freedom… I love Jesus but do not want to give up my writing plans, travel plans, and speaking plans, even when those plans are often more to my glory than to the glory of God.
So I am like Nicodemus, who came by night, said safe things about Jesus to his colleagues, and expressed guilt by bringing to the grave more myrrh and aloes (John 19:39) than needed or desired.

 

PRAYER FOR TODAY
 
Dearest God, help me to evaluate my motivations and actions in the light of your purposes and not be held sway by the advice of friends and opinion makers. Let me look to you rather than to others for guidance, for in setting that priority I learn to renounce my own will and keep peace with you.
Amen
Henri Nouwen Society| 1-866-226-2158 | www.henrinouwen.org

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