The theme for tonight is God is beyond amazing.

The keynote passage is John 3:1-17 and the selected related passage is Romans 8:12-17.   


  • Jesus had to help Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, set aside his earthly understanding in order to grasp heavenly things.

1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 

This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born [a] again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.   

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.  So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”  

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?  11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.  12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  

13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man [b] who is in heaven.  

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should [c]not perish but have eternal life.  16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.


  1. John 3:3  Or  from above
  2. John 3:13  NU omits who is in heaven
  3. John 3:15  NU omits not perish but



    • One takeaway …
      • The Father, Son, and Spirit work together to make us children of God (… as suggested by the early verses of John 3).





The Mystery of God     

John 3:1-17   


When you have a moment to wonder, what do you wonder about?  Perhaps you wonder about black holes and what we would find in their centers.  Maybe you wonder about the ocean and the creatures that live at the bottom.  Some of us may wonder how the pyramids were built or how the Vikings crossed the Atlantic.  What you wonder about is less important than the fact that you do indeed wonder.  We all do to some extent.  Our minds are instinctively drawn to mysteries, and we want to understand.  We are fascinated by the unknown and unanswered questions.  Do aliens exist?  Who shot JFK?  Who pulled off the Gardner Museum heist?  Is Bigfoot real?  We are curious beings who love mysteries.  Neil Armstrong said, “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

Perhaps the greatest mystery is God himself.  Christians believe that God has been revealed by Jesus Christ.  By turning our attention to Immanuel — God with us — we can understand that God is love and that there is no evil in him.  We can see that he is for us and is good beyond measure.  However, even with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, there is much about him that we do not know or cannot fully understand.  Today is Trinity Sunday on the Christian worship calendar, a day where we marvel at the nature of our great God.  Over the course of thousands of years of faithful people seeking to understand God, Christ-followers have learned that God is three distinct persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — united in one being.  They are equal, were never separate, and have always existed.  God is three Persons and one Being.  These are the basic tenets of the doctrine of the Trinity.  I can say (write) the words, but I cannot fully understand the meaning of the words.  My mind is limited, and I cannot truly understand concepts like “Being,” “eternity,” and “never created” (and “Persons”).  In the created universe there is nothing or no one like God, so there is no point of reference to comprehend God’s nature.  How our God has been revealed in Jesus yet remains a mystery.

This is important because we can be tempted to put God in a box.  We can be tempted to act as if we have him all figured out.  We can be tempted to become too familiar with God.  And, when we give in to this temptation, we begin to make God in our image.  We speak for him as if he does not speak for himself.  We lose our awe of him.  We lose our belief in his ability to do great things.  We reduce following God to an intellectual exploration rather than a life-changing relationship  with a being greater than we can imagine.  We get mad at him when he does not behave in a way that we would like, and we dictate the terms of our obedience to him.  When we disregard the mystery of God, we rob ourselves from better understanding his majesty and greatness.

Respecting the mystery of God means that there will be things about him that do not make sense to us right now.  There may be things we read in scripture that do not line up with what we think we understand about God.  We know that God is good, loving, compassionate, and slow to anger, but there are moments in scripture where Jesus says or does things that seem mean, cold, or simply confusing.  I believe we are supposed to mentally and emotionally wrestle with these things.  We are to meditate on them and talk to God about them.  We are to ask him to help us understand.  When we do, God will not leave us wanting.  To see evidence of this, let’s look at John 3:1-17:

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. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You 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.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 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. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:1-17 NIV)

John 3:16 is one of the most frequently quoted passages in the Bible, and rightly so. Jesus provided a beautifully simple and elegant summary of the gospel.  We quote the passage so often that it may be easy to forget the conversation that came before.  John 3:1-15 captured a brilliant man struggling to understand Jesus.  The young rabbi, Jesus, was a mystery (perhaps a novelty) that Nicodemus went to investigate.  In the conversation that transpired, Christ challenged the things Nicodemus thought he knew.  Jesus shifted his paradigms, and I imagine that Nicodemus was left shaken by the interaction.  Yet, the compassionate Christ did not leave Nicodemus completely confused.  In verses 16-17, Jesus stopped using metaphors.  He did not offer up any more descriptions of the Holy Spirit that left one with more questions than answers.  He gave Nicodemus a profound explanation of his mission in plain speech.

The truth is that in this life there are many aspects of God that will remain a mystery.  How can the finite grasp the infinite?  But one of the great miracles of God is that he wants to be known and rewards those who earnestly seek to understand him.  We will not have all of our questions answered in this life.  We will not have full understanding of GodHowever, God gives us enough to continue to become like Christ and love our neighbors.  He gives us enough to prove that he is light and in him there is no shadow.  He gives us enough to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  He gives us enough.

On this Trinity Sunday, let us celebrate the God who is greater than we can imagine.  Let us celebrate the God who will captivate our imagination for the rest of our lives as well as the age to come.  Let us embrace the mystery of God.  Let us not be afraid to wrestle with the things we do not understand.  If we do, we will discover a loving God who wants to be known.  Perhaps God will reveal himself to you in a way that people will be talking about for thousands of years.




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