Sunday June 11, 2017 / Trinity Sunday
[ • Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9 • Psalm ___ • 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 • +John 3:16-18 • ]
[__01_] Jesus made a good first impression upon at least one of the Pharisees. This Pharisee’s name was Nicodemus.
Having made this impression – this connection – upon a Pharisee, a person with whom Jesus often had disagreement or received negative comments, Jesus meets with him one-on-one.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 1, Nicodemus – a Pharisee – had gone to see Jesus. They met up, at night. There were no cameras or recording devices.
We would imagine that Nicodemus had been with our Savior before. Probably he had heard Jesus speak to a crowd.
This made an impression upon him.
And, in some cases, these were – potentially – embarrassing encounters for Jesus.
For example, the Pharisees want to trap him, to trick him and ask – “should we pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
In other words, should we pay taxes to the government which has taken over our land and governs us oppressively?
And, Jesus impresses the crowd – and Nicodemus – with his answer in fewer than 140 characters: “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17)”
[__02__] You and I have first impressions of God, of the Church.
We have first impressions of other people in our lives. We have first impressions of our families, first impressions of a spouse, of a child.
Several years ago, I attended a 25th reunion after college graduation.
During the day we had together, we spent a fair amount of time talking about what happened 25 + plus years ago. So, we were pretty locked into our first impressions. This was what connected us.
And, in some ways, it seemed that we had not changed at all.
Some of my classmates seemed to behave – perhaps I too – as though we had not been apart for 25 years. And, some seemed to behave in a way similar to our first meeting, our first impression.
[__03__] So, first impressions are important.
Nevertheless, these impressions are invitation to a relationship.
In fact, you and I change over time, over the years. Unfortunately, if you see someone only once every 25 years, you may only observe the most superficial of changes.
[__04__] A positive first impression is an invitation to a relationship and to something more intense.
[*** P A U S E ***]
[__05__] There is some intensity, some tension in the encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus.
Nicodemus is investigating his own first impressions of Jesus, interviewing him.
And, if we were to meet someone and be interested in him or her, we would do the same. Sometimes, what we do – and I know I have done this – we try to find out as much as possible about the other person without revealing too much of ourselves.
This is Nicodemus, perhaps you and I at times also.
[__06__] Jesus is reminding Nicodemus that love involves not just an impression, but also an EXPRESSION.
And, this EXPRESSION often takes us to the EXTREME.
Love can take us to the EXTREME of gladness, happiness, affection.
Love is extreme. When we are in love, we sense a connection that we do not have with people in general.
[__07__] The EXPRESSIONS of love, however, are not always easy.
Some people – we love them – but they may not be easy to love. We have an impression, we make an expression. And, the call to love may make us feel that we are living under an oppression.
Love is difficult, at times.
Love us takes us to the extreme.
Today’s Good News reminds us of the invitation to God’s love, to remain in God’s love by not only a first impression or or even a first interview, but also by a daily expression of a relationship.
And, in this case, we are not simply – like Nicodemus – showing up at night to ask the Son of God a few questions.
Rather, we are allowing God into our lives each day – and night – to ask us the questions.
In this we recognize – in the impression and the expression – that love is our goal, just as heaven is our goal, for God is love.
This is his impression, his expression which we know … “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. ” (John 3:16) [__fin__]