I like being in the know. Don’t you?
When people bring up topics, I like to think I can keep up with the discussion. The government shut down and economic crisis—of course I know all about it. The plight of children in Sudan—yep, I read about that this morning. The theory that led to the latest Nobel prize for astrophysics— yes, let’s discuss that over coffee this afternoon.
I do not mean to make light of difficult topics, but only to make this point: I do not know all that stuff. In fact, I know very little and I need to be honest about that. We have a problem in this culture that we think we need to know everything. We open our mouths wide instead of admitting that we need to do some checking or that astrophysics really doesn’t interest us, and that’s ok. By admitting we don’t know or aren’t knowledgeable about a topic, we can actually begin to grow and that, my friends, is where the cool stuff really starts.
Today we’re going to drown all our knowledge, so that God can teach us.
Name three things you know very little about:
Mine would be something like…how to speak Mandarin, anything related to lichen, and who is hot right now in Hollywood.
Now, name three things you know quite a bit about:
For instance, I, Heidi, know a fair amount about theological study, the impact of trauma on individuals, and how to cook supper with only a few ingredients that look like they came from a basket on Chopped.
What are your topics you bring out at a dinner party? That kind of thing.
Now notice this…how little you actually know.
Even though I am a theologian, I know only a drop in the bucket about the Bible. Even though I have more than one degree in psychological theories, I am far, far from an expert on any of them; and even though I can make food appear on the table for my family, I still don’t understand what baking powder or baking soda are and how they make baking work.
We all need to learn so much more.
A man named Nicodemus learned this lesson in a conversation with Jesus in John 3:1-15. Note, this is the same follower of Jesus that later (recorded in John 19) went with Joseph of Arimathea and wrapped Jesus’ body in burial clothes and laid Him in the tomb —
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 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?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, so he really knew stuff, a lot of stuff. Jesus Himself tells him in John 3:10 above,
Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
He is still in the dark, really, even though the manuscripts of the Old Testament with the prophecies of who Jesus was and what He came for were all laid out before him. How often are we the same way? Everything about Jesus is laid before us. We think we know so much, but really, we’re just babies of the Truth.
Jesus has a different answer though, and, just like Jesus, He gives the answer before He states the problem, so that it’s in our hands, just waiting for us. John 3:5-6 —
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
God drowns everything we think we know, once, in our baptisms.
We die and rise to a new understanding, a new Spirit inside our bones. This resurrection process in baptism brings light into our darkened understanding. We look at the world from a new vantage point—the lens of the believer. We fix our eyes on Him, and He gives us Life eternal.
1 Peter 1:3-4 intricately links our baptisms with this rebirth into resurrection hope —
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…
We think we are born to learn and grow and gain knowledge and share knowledge and be knowledgeable people, but in Christ there is a new reality.
We are born to be born again.
Twice born means hope. When we remember our baptisms, we remember the resurrection and the resurrection to come.
We know so little in our tiny time and place in history, but God has a bigger plan. We know what we need to know here, for His work in us. We learn and grow each day. We admit when we don’t know something so that we can learn more and grow more and glorify Him with all knowledge.
Then, one day, when He comes again, and we are resurrected with Him, we really will be Know-It-Alls with full knowledge and understanding of all Christ is as Savior and King.
To Him be the glory in the light of our knowledge and in light of just how little we really know.