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Longing for Transformation

A Lent Reflection for Saturday, March 9 by Mary Peterson


Lectionary reading for 03/09/2023: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Numbers 20:22-29; John 3:1-13

Selected passage for reflection: John 3:1-13


Read

John 3:1-13 NIV

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.



Reflect 

Transformation is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. The other day I stopped by Target and purchased some hair spray. The can promised to “transform my blow out routine.” Even my hair is longing for transformation, apparently! Many of us make decisions every day that reveal our deep longing for transformation… better hair, better diet, less worrying, less stuff, more time with friends, being more intentional in our marriages, training for that half marathon.  Each of these reveal our deep longing for transformation. We crave a new and improved edition of ourselves. 


Nicodemus- a high ranking, well-educated powerful member of the ruling council. John recalls the time Nicodemus found himself sneaking in to see Jesus at night. Nicodemus was curious and wanted to know who this was that could perform miraculous signs.  We don’t know why he came at night, but we like to make assumptions. Maybe it was out of fear of ridicule from neighbors? Maybe he got held up at the office? Maybe he stopped by home to have dinner with the family and tuck the kids in bed before he went to go meet Jesus? We don’t know what motivated his timing. Perhaps our assumptions about Nic’s motivations might reveal some of our motivations for seeking Jesus when we do. 


In this short conversation, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Babies weren’t born in hospitals in those days. Child birth was front and center in a household. Nicodemus didn’t need to recall his high school biology class, he knew something about how babies entered the world. Surely you can’t enter the mother’s womb a second time!

 

Nicodemus was an educated guy. He was taught to think critically and be able to follow logic. In this interaction with Jesus, he clings to his education. He always had the answer, but he might have lost touch with his ability to wonder. Nicodemus struggled to look past the things he had learned to get a glimpse at the kingdom of God. Instead of relying on God to guide him, he had faith in his own mind, education and social standing. He struggled to let go of those things to imagine what God might be doing in his midst. 


It takes faith to trust the wind of the spirit to move us. You never know where God will take you. In this way,  transformation is a risky endeavor. When you trust God to change your life, you will be changed in huge ways. Transformation requires us to let go of our old life- old ways of thinking and being- and rely on God to do the work in us. We will have to engage our sense of wonder to begin to imagine what the Kingdom of God will look like. We have to trust that God is at work in our lives to give us new life. 


Respond 

Spend some time reflecting on these questions:

Where am I craving transformation?

What do I rely on most in my life?

What am I having a hard time letting go of in my life?

How can I rely more on God?



Rest 

Spirit of God, help us to pause and notice your presence in our lives like a cool breeze on a spring day. May we feel you working in our lives even though we can not see where you come from or where you are going. May we trust that you are transforming our lives so that we can glimpse your rule in this world. 



About the Author 


Mary Peterson lives right outside of Beaumont, Texas, with her husband, two teenagers and two cats. She is passionate about the beach, drinking coffee and traveling. Mary serves as Senior Pastor of a precious church called Providence Church and is completing her Doctorate of Ministry at Fuller Seminary. 




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