They Can't Comply
Read: John 3:1-16; Romans 5:6-11
I wonder how many people are singing the Happy Birthday song or the alphabet ditty while hand washing to guard against the coronavirus? This week, I heard about something else we can do for those 20 to 30 seconds while we are sudsing and washing. We can pray for our health care workers. Those in our towns who are there for us during these stressful times and whose lives, in most cases, have or might soon change dramatically. Something I just learned as I was fact checking is that the temperature of the water used for hand washing doesn't matter. It should be running, and soap should be used, but the desired cleansing can be obtained through the use of either hot or cold water. Yes, we are so blessed that it is so easy for us to comply with this directive. However, this isn't the way it is in so many countries all over the world.
According to Gospel for ASIA, there are millions upon millions of people around the world who do not have access to either soap or pure water. Instead, they often must get the water they need from a dirty pond or another source that isn't clean. Therefore, myriads of people in the world are simply unable to comply with the mandate that they wash their hands. Even though Gospel for Asia has provided Jesus wells for many villages, as well as bio sand filters for individual homes, so many remain without the resources of clean water. More people for whom we might pray as we are doing our hand washing.
Have you ever thought that there is another group of people who can't comply with a mandate? Guess what? We are all members of that group, Romans 3:23. And we are in good company because among the members of this group is Nicodemus, the person we meet in today's reading from John 3:1-16. The good news? He was a "good guy" who wanted to know God. The bad news? Jesus told him that in order to even see the Kingdom of God, Nicodemus had to be born again, and Nicodemus had no resource at his disposal to make that happen. The good news? Nicodemus admitted he didn't know how a man could be born anew. The best news? Jesus painted a picture this good but lost and helpless man could understand.
Don't you love that about Jesus the Master/Teacher? He used a story from Israel's wilderness wanderings to explain to Nicodemus how a person could be born anew. Let's remind ourselves of the incident which is tucked away in Numbers 21:4-9. The good news? Numbers 21:1-3 begins with the children of Israel depending on the Lord for victory. The bad news? After that victory, they began to complain against the Lord. They were tired of the manna God provided. Second verse-same as the first. That's when it happened. God sent poisonous snakes, and many people died. The good news? God provided a remedy.
Whoever! Stop and treasure that beautiful word. Whoever! God said that any person who looked up at the bronze serpent that Moses fashioned would be healed. Only by faith in what the Lord provided could a person be saved from the venomous serpents. The bad news? The people had no weapon to overcome the snakes. The good news?
God provided exactly what they needed. They merely had to believe and receive. Is it any wonder that Jesus pointed to this incident to teach Nicodemus? What a picture of the ultimate Good News, the provision of Jesus.
Romans 5:6-11 gives us the really bad news that has infected the life of every person. We have no resource that will make us clean so that we, like Nicodemus, can see and enter the Kingdom of God. We are helpless and hopeless. Yet, as Nicodemus eventually learned, Jesus is the Provision, the Living Water for every person's thirst, John 4:13-14.
Back to that beautiful word ‘whoever’. Could there be anything more precious than that little word that is tucked not only in Numbers 21, but also right smack dab in the middle of John 3:16? Praise God. When He gives a mandate, He provides a Resource. Anyone who knows his inability to be born anew can look up in faith to the One Who died on the cross for His sins.
Lord, Thank You for whoever. That means that no one is beyond your cleansing. May many see their need of a Savior and receive Your Provision, John 1:11-12.