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.” ( John 3:1 – 2)

God and I had a conversation this morning. It concerned some issues that have been going on. Basically it centered on how much of our cares and burdens we can and should “hand off” to the Lord and how much we should use God’s direction and wisdom in our lives to sort out. It was a conversation that had a second part later in the day. And it is a conversation that the Divine and I have had several times over the years. Furthermore, it will probably be a conversation we will have again over the coming years. My salient point in telling you this, beloved reader, is that it was/is/will be the Spiritual aspect of the Divine.

“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.’ (Verses 3 – 7)

The point that the literal-ist Nicodemus was making is that a person can not be born all over again as a newborn baby. And what the mystical Jesus (as told by John who emphasized the mystical aspect of Jesus) was saying is that it’s not the flesh that is re-born but the spirit and soul that comes to an understanding of the Divine. But the writer of the gospel of John sees fit to have them talk at cross purposes in order to make the spiritual part of belief a mystical and other-worldly part. But I tell you, beloved reader, it is not really mysterious and beyond human comprehension.

“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.” (Verse 8)

Did I actually have a back and forth dialogue with the Spirit of the Divine? Yes and no. I prayed, but not a prayer that had any liturgical content. I just talked to the Lord God. Laid out my thoughts and feelings, and then waited for the Spirit to prompt my thinking.

“Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” (Verse 9 – 10)

This verse amuses me; it assumes that by studying scripture as it was known in Jesus’ time was preparatory in ushering a student into spiritual understandings. That was not at all the typical case then, or now. It is the writer of the gospel of John tweaking the scholars of his time for not recognizing what was so obvious to him and his fellow believers. Now, it did not really become obvious until after Jesus rose from the dead and the Spirit/Presence of the Divine descended on them. But we can let the writer of the gospel of John have his “fun” and at the same time learn something.

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (Verses 11 – 15)

I am sure by this point Nicodemus was thoroughly confused. The serpent that Moses lifted up became the symbol of the Israelites sins, and by recognizing their sins and foolhardy ways they were saved. In the same way Jesus “lifted up” by being crucified came to represent the salvation that humanity needed. But . . . . at this point that was not a realization that most people had. The writer of the gospel of John is fast-forwarding to what he learned and then u-turning back to this conversation. Then he straightens out his direction.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (Verse 16)

I believe in God the Parent and Creator. I believe in Jesus as the Son and Redeeming aspect of the Divine. And I believe in the Holy Presence who is with us and instructs us, and guides us into an ever closer relationship with the God-self. And I believe that this exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus was a gentler teaching experience. As the writer of the gospel of John said,

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (Verse 17)

Jesus, the Jesus I believe in, would not have left Nicodemus hanging but what have showed him through scripture and straight teaching what it meant to have a relationship with Yahweh, in terms that Nicodemus could understand. In the same way, the Divine has taught me (and can teach you beloved reader) how to have conversations that both calm me and guide me into greater understanding. And if righteousness is the token of that, so be it! Selah!