Trinity Sunday 3.6.12 John 3.1-17

27 05 2012

Father, Son and Spirit

This dramatic story from near the beginning of John’s gospel gives some hints about the ways in which God’s love is shared with human beings. It also puts the individual’s relationship with God in the context of God’s great purposes for ‘the world’.

John 3.1-17

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He 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.’ 3Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ 4Nicodemus 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?’ 5Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” 8The 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.’ 9Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ 10Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

Giovanni Angelo Del Maino, "Statue of Nic...

Giovanni Angelo Del Maino, “Statue of Nicodemus” (detail), wood, ca. 1518, Collections of applied arts, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

11 ‘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. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 ‘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.

17 ‘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.

Reflections and Questions

‘He came to Jesus by night’ v 1 The word night, and the image of darkness are powerful in John’s gospel. This man was coming under cover of darkness. He was a leader and did not want to be seen.

But might the imagery also speak of Nicodemus’ benightedness? Might it suggest that if he was enlightened he would also walk in daylight, confident in the truth? If you agree, what are implications for our own confidence in faith?

‘no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit..’ v 5. This is powerful talk and not easy to understand fully. It is important to give due weight to water as well as to Spirit.

What do you mean by ‘water’ here? What do you mean by ‘Spirit’?

‘Do not be astonished…’ v7  Strong words again. We might want to imagine the face that Nicodemus had been pulling to elicit this response.  But at least Nicodemus was astonished.

What, if anything, do you find astonishing in this? What, if anything, has astonished you in the life of faith?

‘God.. sent the Son son… in order that  the world might be saved though him’ v8 Notice that it is ‘the world’ that is to be saved.

What do you take the word ‘world’ to mean here?  And what about the word ‘saved’?  What does it mean for the world to be saved?



3 responses

17 05 2014

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16 03 2014

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17 06 2012
heaven is here- as a pattern in language « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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