“I wish there were some wonderful place
  Called the Land of Beginning Again,
 Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
  And all our poor selfish grief
 Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door,
  And never be put on again.”
    —Louisa Fletcher

Good news, Louisa! There is such a place. It is at the feet of the crucified, resurrected Christ. Jesus ushered Nicodemus to the gate of that land; and there is room there for you, too.

All we know about Nicodemus we learn from three brief stories in John’s Gospel. Our text is the first story. It is the narrative of a nighttime visit with the Master. The second is a brief mention in John 7 where Nicodemus found courage to speak up for Christ to his fellow rulers in the Synagogue when they were determined to put the Lord to death (John 7:50-51). The third mention is when Christ had been crucified. Nicodemus went with Joseph of Arimathea to petition Pontius Pilate for permission to take the body of Christ and give it a hasty burial.

From these three brief encounters we learn: (1) He was a Pharisee, the strictest and most pious of Jews; (2) he was a member of the Jewish ruling council—the Sanhedrin; (3) he was convinced by His miraculous deeds that Jesus was a teacher come from God; (4) Jesus called Nicodemus “Israel’s teacher”; (5) he was at first afraid to take his stand for Jesus; (6) but he did gather courage to speak up for Him at the Lord’s trial; (7) and he took his stand with Christ in the humiliation of his crucifixion.

Let’s focus on the first passage in this message on “The Land of Beginning Again.” Here is the famous saying of Jesus, “Ye must be born again.”

Two Honest Questions in this Text:
How can a grown man have a new beginning? It does not make sense. “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus. The second question is like it: How can a physical man have spiritual birth? Nicodemus did not understand it, but it is a fact of life.

Two Illustrations Answer These Questions:
The first picture is from nature. “Listen to the wind in the trees, Nicodemus. Hear it whistle and moan around the stones of this building. Can you see the wind? No, but you hear what you cannot see. You see the effect of the invisible wind. You do not need to know all about it to believe in the unseen. So it is to be born again.”

A second picture is from Israel’s history (see Numbers 21:5-9): “Remember the wilderness wanderings, Nicodemus. When the people rebelled against God, as they so often did, God sent fiery snakes among them. They bit the rebels, who started dying left and right with a burning fever. When the people repented and cried for mercy, God gave it. He had Moses lift a replica of the snake in the middle of the camp. As soon as anyone inflicted with the deadly poison lifted up an eye to look, he or she was cured. There is no reasonable explanation for that. It is a miracle of God’s mercy. So it is with everyone born again.”

A vile and blasphemous sea captain one day was in the crow’s nest, shouting obscenities to his crew on deck below him. Suddenly a wave dipped the boat to port and violently corrected with a dip to starboard. The captain was hurled like a projectile from a catapult far over the waves of the sea. When they fished him out, he was a converted soul and proved it daily ever after in his changed life. He was born again.

There is such a place where a life steeped in sin and selfishness can be radically changed. Today this place could be for you. The Land of Beginning Again could be for you.

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