Prayer： Missionary Michio
Special Praise：Ocarina, "I have found a friend in Jesus"
聖書朗読： ヨハネによる福音書３： Missionary Michio
Message：「A man named Nicodemus」 Pastor Megumi
Prayer of Thanksgiving： Missionary Michio
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Message: The Gospel of John (5) Title: A man named Nicodemus
Last time, I talked about the events that took place in the temple during the Passover in Israel.
Today, I will focus on the story of a Jewish man who visited Jesus.
The man's name is Nicodemus.
Among the Pharisees they argued, "We must get rid of Jesus at all costs!”
Nicodemus on the other hand did not agree with the others and told them "According to our law, we should not pass judgment on someone unless we first hear from him and find out what he has done. (John 7:47-52)
Nicodemus honored Jesus, the young man from Nazareth, an unknown carpenter, by calling him "Rabbi".
Perhaps Nicodemus thought that there was truth in Jesus' teachings and he was willing to take the risk to see what it was.
He already knew about the rumors of the "signs" Christ had performed, and he had heard firsthand the proclamation of his divine sonship in the palace. He may have thought to himself that Christ is no ordinary man and is the Savior who we had been expecting for a long time.
Bible describes a dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus.
He greets Jesus by saying, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God, for no one can do the signs that you do unless God is with him." (3:2)
In addition to being polite and respectful, he acknowledges Jesus as the one who came from God. Isn't that the greatest compliment of all?
Moreover, the fact that he uses the plural form "we " instead of the personal title "I " suggests that perhaps there were others who thought as highly of Jesus as Nicodemus did, and he was there to represent them.
He must have been very upset, because Jesus rebuked him for his answer, " “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” (3:10)
Nicodemus must have been confident that he could determine with his knowledge whether Jesus was the Son of God or not.
Perhaps, in his heart, he was proud of the fact that he and his friends, who were keeping the Law of Moses, must have fulfilled the requirements to enter heaven.
If living a good life, doing good deeds, obeying the law, and being moral were the conditions for salvation, Nicodemus might have been the first one to enter the kingdom of God.
However, according to Jesus, that was not a condition for entering the Kingdom of God.
What I say now is not the purpose of today's message, but I would like to remind you because it is important to me.
Many Christians equate the water mentioned here with "baptism," but should we interpret it that way?
As I said before, I believe that water baptism is not a condition for salvation, so I have a different interpretation.
There is no doubt that "water" is very important meaning because it symbolizes "purification" and "repentance", but ultimately, doesn't Jesus think that this water will be exhausted someday?
Even if we do not understand everything, the first step is to know and accept Jesus Christ.
It is not easy as it means surrendering our lives to God.
We need an intimate experience with God's words.
Even if we understand God’s words, we cannot change our lives without experiencing it.
Wisdom, human knowledge, and philosophy will not make us be born again.
In our daily lives, if we think about the meaning of each small event and give thanks for as much as we can, we can feel the warmth and richness of God.
Mother Teresa looked at Christ in people who were dying.
She found an eternal treasure even in hardship and poverty.
On this night, Nicodemus was unable to achieve his goal and probably left the place discouraged. However, the encounter did not end in vain.
It was just his beginning. I will end by telling you how Nicodemus lived his life after that.
In the Gospel of John 19:38-42, we read that a man named Joseph of Arimathea took down the body of Jesus who had died on the cross, Nicodemus brought myrrh and perfume, and these two men wrapped Jesus’s body in flaxen cloth and buried Him in a tomb.
Nicodemus chose to live his life believing in Jesus Christ as “his Savior" instead of just “a rabbi".