Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the middle of the night. (John 3) He is part of the Pharisees, a religious group that believed God was not showing up to deliver the Jews from Roman control because they were not keeping every little detail of the law. So they pursued getting it right!
Jesus minced no words with Nicodemus but spoke immediately of his need to be born again in order to be part of God’s kingdom. Just like our first birth, being born again of the Spirit is not something we control. We cannot earn God’s favor or forgiveness; we can only accept His gift of grace.
Shortly after this encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus intentionally encounters a woman at a well in Samaria. (John 4) Jews despised the Samaritans because they married non-Jews and dishonored the law of God. Every good Jew avoided Samaritans at all cost… except Jesus.
This woman came for water in the middle of the day to avoid any encounters with the other women. She didn’t need their scorn or snide remarks to remind her of the many mistakes she had made in life.
Jesus crossed a cultural boundary and offered her a drink that would satisfy the deepest longings of her soul. He even revealed Himself to her as the Messiah. When the townspeople responded in faith, Jesus stayed with them for a couple of days before moving on.
To the man who tried to do everything right, Jesus said: “You can’t be right enough to earn God’s grace.”
To the woman who did everything wrong, Jesus said: “You can’t mess up badly enough to be beyond the reach of God’s grace.”
Most of us likely fall somewhere in between Nicodemus and the woman at the well. In fact, we probably bounce back and forth once in a while. At times we give ourselves wholeheartedly to getting it right only to be disappointed at our failure to do so.
So we swing the other direction and suffer through feeling too messed up to even have a part in God’s kingdom. We perceive that our mess is bigger and deeper than God’s grace. But…
God’s grace is enough!
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.