Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’
And so it begins... John's expose' on the spiritual life. There is natural birth, the waters of the womb and then there is spiritual birth. The discussion takes place in the darkness of evening between two scholars. But the discussion quickly turns from dialogue to expose' - the writer moves away from dialogue and begins speaking about Jesus in the third person.
I wish for a more fleshly conversation between these two men. I wish for Jesus' words to be less heavenly. I get where Nicodemus is coming from. He doesn't even get a question out before Jesus starts going on and on about the Spirit, mixing in Moses of course as a helpful guide. If Jesus had given Nicodemus a chance to spit out a question, or had probed him to get at what he was asking, I wonder what it would have been.
Who are you? How do you do these things? Where did you come from? What do you believe of the presence of God? How is it that you have the presence of God? Everyday? With every move? And would he go as far as to ask, How might I live with the presence of God in my life? Everyday? With every move?
I guess that's what Jesus is trying to answer. You must be born of anew. Maybe.
Before we lose the dialogue, Jesus introduces the idea of heavenly things vs. earthly things.
And then the passage moves away from dialogue and into a statement about trust. The writer argues that we must trust in the son, like the Hebrews trusted in the serpent that Moses held.
And the passage ends with a statement of judgment. People love darkness more than light because our deeds are evil.
Are those the answers to Nicodemus' question about the presence of God in our lives. Or are they the keys to understanding heavenly things? Trust and light.
Life in the Spirit. Living with the presence of God moment to moment. If we could boil down some helpful hints about walking this earthly life in a heavenly manner, wouldn't we include the imperative of trust and the need to follow the light even if, especially if, it exposes our darkness?
This is not something Nicodemus can attain through study. The presence of God here on earth is found when we fall into the God's path, when we give in fully - trust. The presence of God here on earth is found when we dare enter the light.
For Nicodemus, I wonder what was his issue of trust that day when they spoke in the night? What was he wrestling with? What were the concerns on his heart and in his mind and how did he receive this challenge to trust?
Could Nicodemus put his finger on an area of his life where he wanted light or needed light but like Jesus said, he was keeping it in the dark instead? What did he think of this challenge to enter the light rather than stay in the dark?
And what of us - are we intrigued by the presence of God in Jesus' life? Do we listen to the stories of Jesus' life and wonder - how is it that the heavenly world worked so vividly through him? And if so, would we accept the invitation to new birth if it meant that we must trust and walk into the light?
Search this blog for a specific text or story:
I am grateful for