John 3: 5-10; 11-17
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 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.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Devotion by Ugena Whitlock
Nicodemus was a learned man; he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council. He is mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John. In our verses, then reminding the Sanhedrin that Jewish law requires a person be heard before being judged, and finally, providing embalming spices to help bury Jesus. Sometimes when we read this passage, Nicodemus is presented as though he thinks Jesus is saying a person must be born again from their mother’s womb. But Nicodemus was a teacher and leader. Jesus acknowledges this when he says, “You are Israel’s teacher. Do you not understand what I’m saying?” I think Jesus meant—“You know very well what I’m saying.” This was deep spiritual stuff Jesus was laying on Nicodemus. It was about the Kingdom of God—which Jesus said was already here and now, all around, like the air, eternal, spiritual. This was not something that ran counter to Jewish teachings, but rather was what Judaism was really all about. Jesus asked Nicodemus to acknowledge what he himself already knew to be real. Our bodies and spirits are God’s in the world; that’s the Kingdom. “Just look at me,” Jesus said. “I’m held up as an example of it!” What Jesus said made such an impact on Nicodemus that he would later argue for a fair trial for Jesus; when that didn’t happen, he helped prepare him for burial. Yes, Nicodemus knew what Jesus had meant. We are all—all of us, all parts of us—already God’s.
God to whom we belong, the wind blows wherever it pleases. We hear its sound, but we cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. Help us believe on heavenly things, as Jesus said. Help us understand that we are a people born of the Spirit and understand the blessings and responsibilities that come with being siblings in the Kin(g)dom of God. Amen.