Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Born Twice #4: A late night decaf coffee with Jesus

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

Nicodemus (V1) comes to Jesus under the cover of night (Perhaps a little afraid of being seen with Jesus.) So they get together for a late decaf coffee. Nicodemus is a good man who keeps the law (a Pharisee). He says V2: "We know that you are from God". The plural ‘we’ suggests that he is representing a group who think that Jesus is also moral and good. So he is there perhaps to make a deal with Jesus, since Jesus is getting popular. Nicodemus is therefore diplomatic and generous: V2
Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God.
Jesus in virtually interrupts him and shoots straight. It's late, and there's no point in chit-chat. V3
Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.
Jesus clearly says "Being born from above" - i.e. being born of God. But Nicodemus just hears that he has to be born. So he assumes that it is again. V4

"How can a senior citizen like me re-enter my mother's birth canal and uterus?! I can't even get into the backseat of a taxi without help these days, and you want me to be born all over again?!"

It is doubtful that Nicodemus actually took Jesus literally. He's poking fun at Jesus' comment.

If Jesus detected the shtick, he lets it slide and so repeats what he had just said in V5. He expands on it, making clear he's talking about a re-birth from the Spirit.

As he was talking, a gust of wind slams the door and so Jesus says, V8 "Did you hear that? The wind blows here and there, but you never really know where it comes from, or where it may go next. God's Spirit is like that, Nicodemus. He is uncontrollable. Sometimes he comes with gale-force strength, sometime with breeze. But when the Spirit blows into your heart, you are made new from the inside out- Fresh and young like a newborn baby."

Art by F. Alexandre Bida.

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