John 3:6-15, NIV

6 "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born
again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not
understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of
what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still
you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to
you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will
you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

13 "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who
came from heaven
--the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted
up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted
up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."


 

December 9, 2010
This is the middle section of their one on one encounter. Jesus
has just finished telling Nicodemus that no one can see the kingdom
of God unless he or she is born again. Then Jesus told him to study
the wind, because there's more to this world than meets the
eye.
The kingdom of God is not tangible. I cannot physically hear, touch,
smell, taste or observe how it works. Like the wind, it doesn't require explanation; it simply exists.

There's also more to being a religious leader than possessing a title.
I doubt if there was anything inferior about the intellect of Nicodemus,
or his knowledge of Israel's history and sacred Scriptures. It's very
likely he knew 
much more about Moses and the Prophets than the
disciples of Jesus did. 
So what was it that Nicodemus missed, what
didn't he see?

And there's more to the 'snake on the pole' story than is told in
Numbers 21:8-9. Jesus, the only authority on the mysteries of heaven, revived the incident and drew a parallel. God, now and in the present
tense, would give them something to see! He, the Son of Man, will
be lifted up and everyone who pays attention and sees what has
happened and takes it all in, will have eternal life.

The question Nicodemus asked still echoes: "How can this be?"
To anyone who really wants to know, Jesus would probably say
the same words as he said to his disciples, "Come and see."


                                                                      More journal entries

December 10, 2010

The story of Nicodemus is about looking and really seeing. Seeing
the miracles and recognizing that God was present in them; the
possibility of seeing by faith the kingdom of God; believing the
revelation that Jesus will one day be 'lifted up' for the healing of
all who trust in him. Seeing the miracles and seeing Jesus on the
cross--if seeing is believing then this physical evidence is necessary.
But to see the kingdom of God, that is like the wind


November 21, 2001
Nicodemus, if you don't understand what I am saying to you, go
study the wind! You can't see it or catch it in your hands. You don't
know where it 
comes from or where it is going. It's the same with
the Spirit. It blows/comes and goes/is 
present. You can't make it
happen or stop it from happening. You are not 
responsible for
its presence. Nor are you able to dictate where or when or 
how the wind/spirit moves.

In verse 9, Nicodemus sounds bewildered. He's beginning to be
sorry he came to Jesus!


July 1, 1982
We are born both flesh and spirit. Does whichever is nurtured
most, become dominate? We are created human (flesh), but we are
made in the image of God (spirit). These are the two that struggle
within us until one gives in or is overcome by the other. We are all
capable of acting in the flesh (sin) or acting in the Spirit (righteousness).
In a spiritual conversion we give the flesh to God so he can start
to re-create it. Daily acts of surrender are further measures we take
so God can perfect his work of re-creation. Perfect might be too
strong a verb to use because we're far from perfect. But in the sense
of a perfectionist who is not satisfied until everything is as right as 
it can be.Jesus talked of conversion as being total--all of you, your
whole self. Salvation 
is holistic, yet much of the practice of religion
involves only a small part of us. 

Lip service, Sunday mornings, prayer when we need supernatural
help, half-hearted responses, giving just enough to satisfy our
conscience that we have done our duty, closing our eyes to what
we don't want to see.

Holistic faith, Nicodemus--not by night, on the sly, in addition to
all the other 
duties of life, or to satisfy your curiosity.

Holistic faith, Kathleen--not only when I have nothing better to do
or think about, not only when I'm laid back and in recovery.

Holistic faith is a faith without excuses. Holistic faith is a renewable,
life-long spirituality; growing, changing, alive to God. Flowing with
the cycles of Palm Sunday, Thursday's foot washing, Gethsemane,
Good Friday, Saturday waiting amid uncertainty, and then Easter.

Holistic faith involves all of me in a Gospel that works; sometimes
slowly and laboriously, others times spontaneously or with great
certitude, everyday of the week in all relationships and circumstances.


July 2, 1982
Trust yourself to the wind, Nicodemus, to the winds of God. Jesus
used an example from nature and the weather to explain a spiritual
truth. To Nicodemus the wind was a mystery, doing what it wanted
to do and no one could harness nor control it. We believe there is
wind, without understanding it. Being born of God is experienced
the same way. The wind of the Spirit is known by the evidence it
produces. Understanding comes with belief although much
always remains a mystery.

Those concepts Jesus used to chide Nicodemus for his lack of understanding--truth, what we know, what we have seen, our
testimony, believe, heavenly things--they all required a degree of
faith that Nicodemus lacked. Neither was he able at this point in
his life to live in the free-flowing realm of God's Spirit.

Nicodemus was a person who didn't want to be taken in by
something false, so he asked a lot of questions and moved slowly. Questions, doubts--these are not necessarily the same. Too late did
he make up his mind; too late to benefit from associating with Jesus
in the flesh. But in the end he did courageously express his devotion
by helping to take Jesus' body from the cross and burying it. Was
he among the 120 followers who waited for the Holy Spirit at
Pentecost?  I'm sorry we don't know anymore about him.

 

July 4, 1982
Yesterday I was thinking about this passage off and on about living
in both the physical and the spiritual worlds, a duel citizenship.--
And the two blending into one, while living in one, yet always aware
of the other. That's probably a very important truth. In the physical
world, yet conscious of the spiritual world; in the spiritual world, yet conscious of the physical world. Awareness of one makes me more
alive in the other. Involvement in one, adds to the appreciation
of the other.


July 7, 1982
Being religious does not guarantee anything. Intellectual knowledge
is not heart knowledge. It's a start but it doesn't go far enough. We
learn the basics before advancing. Being faithful in small things
before receiving more responsibility. Learning to love and trust in
this world before accepting revelations of the next.

Did Nicodemus think Jesus was tricking him? Was he mistrustful?
Must you accept the person before you can believe what they're
saying? For many people its more important who is saying it,
than what is said.

Jesus really put Nicodemus down --You can't even acknowledge
that what I say is true even when I tell you what you already know.
How could you possibly acknowledge or believe the truth of what
I'm saying if I tell you something you don't already know. You must
trust me before you can believe me. You must love me in order to
trust me. So where, how does love begin? Maybe by responding
affirmatively to that which we already know and have already
experienced?

Man reaching for God and God reaching for man. Actually God
is the initiator and is consistent and faithful in his reaching
although we are not.

We begin to love by responding to love. That sounds like we begin
to love by faith. And faith probably comes from love! If I were an
intellectual, would it be easier or more difficult to understand
these things. Nicodemus tried to understand Jesus by responding
with his intellect, which was an inadequate response.


November 22, 2001
Jesus: Nicodemus, you are a teacher in Israel, yet you don't
understand what I'm talking about? I'm telling you the truth, yet
you and your cronies won't accept it. Even things you already know,
you will not accept from me. When I speak to you of earthly things,
you do not believe. And ironically although you have said you
believe I have come from God, you do not trust what I say
about heavenly things.

In verse 14 Jesus looks deeply into the eyes of Nicodemus and
holds in view his own final event and finds Nicodemus is there
(John 19:35-42). He is reminded of the Old Testament story about
the healing qualities of the bronze snake on the long pole. Everyone
who looked up and saw the snake was healed from their poisonous snakebites (Numbers 21:8-9). Nicodemus, I am going to serve the
same purpose as that snake and when you look up at me and finally
trust me, you will be born from above, of God, and you will know
eternal life. God loves you. God loves the world so much.

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