Yesterday I had networking problems, so I could get my post up.
John 3: 1-36
This week in chapter 3 of John 2 things are covered, Nicodemus visiting Jesus and learning that to be part of the world to come he must be born of water and spirit. The second being John the baptist teaching his own disciples about who Jesus is, and that all should follow him.
I wonder what Nicodemus wanted to know when he came to Jesus. He came to Jesus acknowledging Jesus being a great teacher and obviously loved and acknowledged by God because of the miracles he can perform. I think Nicodemus came to Jesus with questions to ask about the Law. Nicodemus was a member of the ruling council. The council decided Jewish matters in Jerusalem and were a moral authority. I guess they are a lot like the Pope and his cardinals in deciding what the correct interpretation of scripture for all Catholics. I could see why Nicodemus would have questions, that's quite a burden, and it's been along time since there's been a teacher touched by God to correct the paths of His people.
What kind of questions would you ask Jesus if you had the shared responsibility of deciding the interpretation of doctrine for all of your country men? I think I would ask Jesus if I was leading His people away from him. I'd ask what needs to be corrected, certainly after 400 years there are corrections to be made. I'd wonder if I've followed God's law correctly. I'd also hope whatever the answer it wasn't too hard to do.
Before Nicodemus can ask a single question, Jesus says to him "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again." I could just imagine myself thinking, but I thought we had to honour God by following rules, what rules have we led God's people to break, have we all broken God's covenant and that's why the Roman's rule us. Have we misplaced some of Moses' writings, there is no mention of being born again in the Law. So Nicodemus asks how to be reborm and Jesus tells him with water and spirit. It took me a while to make some sense of this in my understanding of the Jewish Law and the observances at that time, apparently Nicodemus didn't get it either.
What does being reborn of water and Spirit mean to you?
In terms of the Law (and I'm no expert in it, or accepted opinion of what these teachings mean not having any formal teaching) I see that for water, the Jews had a lot of rules about ceremonial washing, so I could see water as being a renewal of cleanliness and righteousness before God. The Jews also had a lot of rules around ceremonial defilement and the sacrifices required. So water makes my body clean from defilement, and sacrifice makes my soul clean from defilement. I remember reading all the sacrificial items and when individual sacrifices had to be performed, I knew I would never be considered cermonially clean, or at least not for very long following those rules, and that was based just on the nature of my mensus alone during that first reading. If that's even close to what Jesus meant, I guess I could see how Jesus would say to Nicodemus, surely as a teacher of the Law and interpretter of when and how to wash and sacrifice for removing defilement, and knowing that being defiled you cannot come before God, certainly a teacher of that should understand that to come into the permanent presence of God you need to be renewed by water and Spirit.
Where I'm at right now is trying to understand verse 8 which follows more examples about what reborn means Jesus says "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." What does this passage mean to you? How do you know if you've been reborn of the Spirit? How does a person, being reborn of the Spirit identify with what Jesus says about the wind?