A New Beginning
God called Abraham to leave his country and journey to a far off unknown land:
The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
We say that Abraham is the father of faith. He believed and trusted in what God told him to do. Because of this belief he obeyed God, even without fully knowing where God was leading him. Thus, the Apostle Paul states in Romans that God commended Abraham and counted his faith as righteousness. We read:
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.
In today’s Gospel reading we another example of someone having to trust God. In this case it is Nicodemus. We read:
There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-17)
Jesus said we must begin anew in our lives. We must learn to trust God, not always knowing ahead of time what the outcome will be. The wind blows where it chooses. We need someone to guide us through challenging times. We have this promise from the Lord:
The Lord himself watches over you;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand,
So that the sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
it is he who shall keep you safe.
The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in,
from this time forth for evermore. (Psalm 121:5-8)
Are we Abraham or Nicodemus? Nicodemus was skeptical. But he had not yet seen how much God really loves us. We have the testimony of the cross:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Eternal life is a gift from God that we cannot earn. Nevertheless, we must believe in him enough to follow Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.