June 3, 2012

The New Testament text for Sunday is John 3:1-8. This is the story of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night. Whatever Nicodemus wanted, I sense that he wasn’t prepared for what Jesus told him. Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be “born again,” or as the RSV states it, he must be “born from above.” This confused Nicodemus; how can one be born twice? Jesus repeats his instruction with an interesting preface: “Amen, amen, lego soi.” This translates, “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” or “In truth, in very truth, I say to you,” or “Very truly, I tell you.” For me, this introduction is critically important. Like many people today, Nicodemus wanted to hear Jesus literally. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he has to listen at a different level of truth to understand this message. It’s not exactly “figurative speaking,” although “born again” is obviously a metaphor. Jesus is saying that “being born of Spirit” or “becoming a new creation in Christ” is something “literal” that happens at a deep level in our consciousness, a change deep within our spiritual nature. An example of this “spiritual birth” is depicted in the lesson from the Old Testament, Isaiah 6:1-8. Isaiah has a vision in which he hears the call of God, is cleansed, and becomes a new creation with a mission.