And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
John 3:1 – 8
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.” “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 gives birth to spirit.
How far back can you remember? (Let children share memories of their earliest memories. You could also share your earliest memory.) Can any of you remember being born? That might be hard to do at this point. One of my children started talking at a very young age and we had many interesting conversations since it was fascinating hearing the point of view of one so young.
When a baby is born, does it begin life by trying to be helpful to others? Does a baby try to put others first and make sure that they are okay before asking for help or food or love? (Children can share what they think. Older brothers and sisters of infant offspring will probably have something to say about this.) Babies are inherently self-centered, aren’t they? They cry when they are hungry or wet or need attention. It does not matter to a baby if you are tired or hungry yourself. The baby is only concerned with its own survival and comfort. Once it is born, a baby’s first concern is staying alive. It is born for its own life.
Jesus once told a very important man, that in order to be right with God, a person needs to be born again. This man, Nicodemus, thought that was impossible. Once you are born, there is no way that you are going to get back in to the mommy from whence you came. But Jesus was talking about the heart and soul of a person, not their physical body. Jesus was talking about being born again into God’s family; being baptized with water and with the Holy Spirit of God. Baptism is like being born again.
This time, however, you are born into a life that does not have you as its center. A baptized life has Jesus at its center, and so the baptized, or born-again person is born into a life of service to others. A child of God wants to help others first before helping themselves. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And (Jesus) died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.”
Can you imagine a baby turning to its mother and saying, “Mother, I would really like to have some milk now, but I’m wondering if you have had enough to eat first?” That would seem strange, of course, but as we grow up and as we listen to God’s word, we realize that we are here to help others and to show others the Love of God. We are born again to have Jesus at the center of our lives instead of having ourselves at the center of our lives. We pray that God’s Spirit will help us to serve others for Christ.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, Thank you for dying on the cross in our place. Thank you for saving us. Help us to put you at the center of our lives. Help us to live our lives for you and for others. Amen.