There was a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees. One night he went to Jesus and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher sent by God. No one could perform the miracles you are doing unless God were with him.”
Jesus answered, “I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again.”
“How can a grown man be born again?” Nicodemus asked. “He certainly cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time!”
“I am telling you the truth,” replied Jesus, “that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit. Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again. The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” asked Nicodemus.
Jesus answered, “You are a great teacher in Israel, and you don’t know this? I am telling you the truth: we speak of what we know and report what we have seen, yet none of you is willing to accept our message. You do not believe me when I tell you about the things of this world; how will you ever believe me, then, when I tell you about the things of heaven? And no one has ever gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from heaven.” As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge,
but to be its saviour.
During my Theological training, Fr Michael Trainor spoke about the Gospel of Mark being like “a ripping yarn!” As I learnt more about the gospels, I saw them through, “Anne’s Thinking Hats of the Bible”:
– Matthew is great for those who like to know boundaries and have clarity, the “How to be a good Christian”
– Mark is a “ripping yarn” (M. Trainor), “And then they went here! And then they went there!”
– Luke (and Acts) is wonderful for the “whole picture” people
– John is full of ‘images’, scenarios that unveil the narrative in a completely different way again
I find this helps with this Johannine reading. Nicodemus wants to know. He asks questions with specific intention. Jesus draws him to ‘see’ deeper, beyond the obvious. Nicodemus sees the ‘concrete’ proof – the miracles. Jesus speaks of the Spirit as the wind. Nicodemus wants reason, and asks “how”, the ‘but why?’. Jesus speaks of experiencing new life, born into a new way of being, of lifting our gaze towards the love of God, rather than looking for signs or symbols. Sometimes, our anxiety for details diminishes our ability to gaze towards the image unfolding before us. May we remember:
but to be its saviour.’
Wanting to know the what,
we miss the wow.
Seeking out the detail,
we miss the wonder.
Clarifying the rules,
we miss the freedom.
Looking at the sign,
we miss the symbolism.
As we lift our gaze towards you, O God,
Reveal the ephemeral,
And open our hearts to your very real love. Amen
I look to the mountains; where will my help come from?
My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake.
The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps.
The Lord will guard you; he is by your side to protect you.
The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night.
The Lord will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe.
He will protect you as you come and go now and forever.