Brian Hoare asked us what we considered the best known verse in the Bible and I thought of John 3.16; ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’. Martin Luther saw that as the gospel in miniature. There were 6000 Pharisees and they were a very select brotherhood, which followed the Jewish Law as set down in the Pentateuch. They were very well educated and knew the Old Testament well. They were scholars and teachers of the Law to the people. The Scribes studied the Law in minute detail and elaborated on laws like keeping the Sabbath holy; they had 24 chapters giving the details. Jesus had harsh words for the Scribes and the Pharisees because of their outward show and intellectual approach, when they did not have their heart in it. Nicodemus a ruler of the Jewish people was a member of the Sanhedrin, an exclusive group of 70 men. A baby does not decide to be born; it just happens. We don’t decide to be born again; it is what God does within us, turning our world upside down. Saul the persecutor became Paul the Apostle. Emperor Constantine’s battle cry was in the sign of the cross ‘conquer’. John Wesley’s heart was strangely warmed at Aldersgate Street. C.S. Lewis was travelling on the top of a double-decker bus when he realised the reality of God.
Jesus spoke of the snake on the pole Moses had in the wilderness from Numbers 21, when those bitten by snakes had to look at the bronze snake on the pole to be healed. Jesus saw the snake on the pole as a symbol of the crucifixion; Jesus lifted up on the cross, then resurrected and ascended into heaven. As we look to Jesus we may be reborn. What about our story? Has the wind of the spirit blown in my life, Brian asked; he doesn’t remember being born again. Many are not conscious of the wind blowing in their lives but some people are. Brian felt that the Emmaus Road story most fitted with his experience. I know that mum felt the Emmaus Road story was special for her. Some people have a Jericho road experience when someone helps them when they are in a bad place. It does not matter how people come to believe that knowing Jesus is best, as long as they come to know him.