April 4, 2014
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?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:4-6
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Do you know the tragedy of "King Oedipus," which was first told in ancient Greece by the playwright Sophocles?
In the story, Oedipus, representing human wisdom, solves a riddle given to him by the Sphinx. Later, as the king of Thebes, he tries to find the secret that will lift a curse, which has been placed upon his city. When a prophet warns him not to pursue the truth, Oedipus doesn't pay any attention. Instead, he loses almost everything when his search for truth reveals he has killed his father and is now married to his mother.
At the time Sophocles wrote this work, many of the leading thinkers of Greece believed that man's reason was absolute, and his free will should be unchecked. Indeed, one philosopher, Protagoras was his name, went so far as to say: "Man is the measure of all things." Sophocles disagreed. He maintained human knowledge is uncertain, and our reason and free will delivers little which is permanent.
Nicodemus, who appears in the passage we share above, thought he had a pretty good grasp of faith.
How could he not? He was the man who knew about God's laws and had worked toward having a good understanding of matters religious. Moreover, he occupied a position of leadership among Pharisees. With these things on his resume, Nicodemus -- wishing to remain anonymous -- came to see our Lord in the middle of the night.
Why did he go to visit Jesus?
Martin Luther, the religious reformer, answered that question like this: "because he could get nothing from reason and free will of man."
The story goes this way: Nicodemus came to see Jesus in the dark night, avoiding eyes of others. The first thing he did was greet Jesus with the most excellent of words. Seeing past the Pharisee's flowered words, the Savior showed He was not interested in grammatically good but spiritually empty greetings.
Wanting to reveal the man's heart and save his life, the Lord Jesus told him this: "I tell you the truth; no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again" (see John 3:3).
By this Jesus meant that when the Holy Spirit places real, saving faith in our hearts, it brings about changes. It changes our thinking, our priorities and, above all, it changes our relationship with the Lord. No, we are not given the ability to resist every sin and lead absolutely perfect lives.
On the other hand, it does mean when we're born again in the Spirit, we will live gratefully as we try to glorify our Redeemer who has saved us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we hope that through the Word of God we share today, we will be changed and live in a way which glorifies the Triune God. To that end we ask the peace of God be upon us, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus in whose Name we pray. Amen.
Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by the Reverend Lee Young Ho of the ChangJo Lutheran Church. We thank him for this devotion and support of our Korean office, where we have developed evangelistic tools that work within Korean traditions. Our staff proclaims the Savior through theater events, youth retreats, seasonal television specials, and Advent and Lenten Devotions. God has blessed us as we have tried to connect converts and questioners with local Lutheran congregations. Based out of Seoul since 2003, this ministry center shares the message of Jesus Christ through its website, mobile apps, automated messaging, and Korean-language books and videos, and Project JOEL. Through its collaboration with the Korean Lutheran Church, Gospel inroads are being made in both North Korea and China. You can find its blog at lhmkorea.wordpress.com.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhmint.org.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries