March 8 (Second Sunday in Lent): Psalm 121 and John 3:1-17

January 30, 2020 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa

I wonder what the following morning must have been like for Nicodemus, whose encounter with Jesus in the cloak of night, changed him forever. What a difference a curious question does for Nicodemus, “How can these things be?” after Jesus says that one must be born again to enter, or to see the kingdom of God. Having witnessed the birth of both of our sons many years ago, I remember seeing them for the first time, hearing their first cries, and seeing them slowly open their own eyes, struggling to adjust to the daylight peering through the hospital curtains. For Nicodemus, as Jesus explains, to be reborn is to see, to discern the presence of the kingdom of God. To be reborn is to see, which is to be saved.

Psalm 121 is a praise declaration of seeing. You can almost feel the palpable “Alleluia” ringing from the cantors’ heart, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills –/from where will my help come from?” The psalm goes on to say that the Lord doesn’t slumber, the Lord watches our coming and our going, the Lord keeps and guards us, the Lord protects, the Lord provides. The immediate sense we glean from Psalm 121 is of imminent danger needing assurance of the Lord’s protection, or of downcast spirits having fallen, feeling defeated, experiencing despondency. The psalm is an encounter to God’s people to behold, to see the Lord who is present.

Both Psalm 121 and John 3 are divine encounters to behold. In lifting our hearts and eyes, we are reborn to the hope and new life that is in the Lord. With each and every time are lives are directed to the Son who has been sent to the world by God, we see we have been saved, and given new life. We are born again!