Milestones are those moments forever ingrained in your heart — something like a “Kodak Moment” preserved in the memories of your mind. I have many such moments, one of which is when I was baptized.
As a child of 7 years old, I experienced the sensation of the mildly tepid water against my skin, the pleasant humidity in the air; the soft aqua blue of the baptistry gentle on the eyes and giving a certain tenor of calm to the soul. I remember the joy and confidence I felt as our pastor directed my feet to a concrete block set in place specifically for me as I was still too short to see over the edge of our baptismal pool, situated at the head of our church behind the screens that would come down later in the service with the words of our favorite hymns projected upon it. The pastor gave me a moment to affirm my faith in Christ publicly before being immersed in the water as a testimony to others that my old life was dead and I was buried with Christ and made alive in Him in the likeness of His death and resurrection. I recited John 3:16 by memory: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It was a special moment that I will forever cherish.
As I age and continue to be taught by the Lord, the context of this verse has become even more meaningful. The whole recounting of Nicodemus and Jesus resonates with me. Nicodemus was a man with questions. He was a spiritually educated man, a teacher of the law in fact, and a man with great enough regard for Jesus to seek Him out, recognizing that Jesus offered him something beyond his own mind’s limited understanding. Though he did not yet recognize Jesus as the Christ at the point of this conversation, he was still drawn to this teacher that he knew to be sent from God. Jesus quickly recognized Nicodemus’ desire — to see the Kingdom of God— and just as quickly pinpointed his need — to be born again into a new life given by the Holy Spirit. Jesus quickly identified that this man in front of Him needed to believe He was not merely a teacher sent by God, but the promised Messiah and Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. I love the simplicity of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
As I read these words above spoken to Nicodemus, I hear Jesus saying to me, “I know you want what I have and to be a part of what I’m doing. You can’t join in unless you are a new person. You can’t be a new person unless the Holy Spirit makes you that person. The Holy Spirit will give you new life, but you must believe that I am the one who dies for your sins so you don’t have to die for your sins and stay dead in those sins. Accept that I love you and I am the One sent to save you. I am the One who died so that you can have eternal life — death and sin were no match for me. Come follow me.”
The next challenge that Jesus left with Nicodemus was this: “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:21).
Personally, I think Nicodemus accepted that challenge well. He spoke up for Jesus when Jesus was being falsely accused without a hearing (John 7:50-51) and he continued to follow Jesus and identify himself as one of Christ’s followers even in the death and burial of Christ. (John 19:39-42)
As those who have also been born again by the Holy Spirit, we have been given the same challenge: to associate ourselves with Christ. Whether it be through believer’s baptism, siding with Christ in difficult conversations, or being the few that don’t give up when God’s plans don’t make sense to us. To follow Christ in the newness of life He gives means to no longer hide our faith under the cloak of darkness, but identifying ourselves with Him in all things big and small.
About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.