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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: February 9, 2024

When Jesus asks Nicodemus, “are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things,” He’s not being snarky. He’s being honest. Nicodemus is confused and turned upside down when Jesus talks about baptism, when Jesus talks about how a man must be born again of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven. He doesn’t understand how this spiritual rebirth happens. Though Isaiah has said that the Suffering Servant, the Messiah pierced for our transgressions would sprinkle many nations, Nicodemus couldn’t see it. Though leprous Naaman washing in the waters of the Jordan and becoming clean foreshadowed this, Nicodemus couldn’t see it. Despite his status as a teacher, Nicodemus can’t see what is plainly obvious to our Lord. Why? I suppose it’s because Nicodemus loves the law more than the Gospel. He desires sacrifice over mercy. But not so with Jesus. Because Jesus loves mercy, Jesus loves you. And He therefore sees the plan of salvation quite clearly. It’s obvious to Him what baptism is.

So for Jesus, there is no doubt. He was always going to come into this world to claim you. He was always going to bring eternal life to sinners who couldn’t win salvation for themselves, for those who couldn’t master the law and give God the obedience He required for them to inherit eternal life. For those who were born of the flesh, born into a life of corruption and death, Jesus was always going to give them a new birth, a new life where they would be born of the Holy Spirit, born into a perfection that would clothe them forever. And so it was never in doubt. Jesus was always going to give you eternal life by putting His life-saving blood into the waters of Holy Baptism and by placing His glorious victory over sin, death, and the devil into those waters.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the word that He sent Jesus Christ into the flesh to fulfill and complete the obvious story of salvation that our Lord had been telling from the beginning. For God so loved you that He led His only Son to the Cross, and lifted Him up from the grave in order to wash you in the waters of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, God so loved you. And He always will.

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