Ramblings: Lent II – 12th March 2017
As we continue on our Lenten journey this year, I am hoping that you are all using our wonderful resources, written for us by members of the parish. I am enjoying and appreciating the study notes enormously. I think our writers have out-done themselves this time! Booklets are available on our website, and have also been emailed to all who are on our email list.
If you would like a hard copy, simply contact our office, and Jan will get one to you as soon as possible.
As I have reflected on the gospel set for this week – the encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus – I have been struck by the Evangelist, John’s, use of the literary device – a play on words. Twice in this passage, he has Jesus challenge Nicodemus to read between the lines! To see this, we need to engage with the original Greek text. Fortunately, we have worthy commentators, who are able to point these things out to us. I consulted both Dorothy Lee, in “Flesh and Glory”, and Brendan Byrne, in “Life Abounding”
The first time is in chapter 3 verse 3. Jesus says: “Truly, Truly I say to you, unless someone is born anõthen he or she is not able to see the Kingdom of God.” The Greek word: anõthen, has two meanings. It can mean ‘again’ – with a sense of time, or ‘from above’, with a sense of space. (It’s a bit like the English word: ‘charge’. If I were to say, “The batteries were free of charge”, then you may very well understand that they did not cost me anything. On the other hand, they may have been flat, and therefore useless.)
So Nicodemus assumes that Jesus means a person must be born again, and he can’t understand how that can happen. But Jesus quickly demonstrates that he is speaking of a Spiritual re-birth – a birth from above!
In verses 7 and 8 he catches Nicodemus again! This time, with the word pneûma. This Greek word means both Spirit, and wind. Jesus begins speaking about the Holy Spirit, but ends up likening it to the wind, which blows wherever it will.
I wonder why Jesus used these devices? Perhaps it was because he knew what sort of a man Nicodemus was? Perhaps he needed to think deeply, on many different levels? The words of Jesus are inspiring in different ways for different people. How wonderful to think that God wishes to capture our hearts so much, that the message of love needs to be conveyed in ways which will intrigue and fascinate! No matter who we are, or how we think, God will communicate with us, in just the right way, when we need to understand and believe.
“ In this way, God loved the cosmos, that the unique Son he gave, that everyone believing in Him may not perish, but have life eternal.” This is a direct translation of the Greek John 3:16. A little different, isn’t it?
God bless your week.