( A commentary on John 3: 7-15)
Daily Reflection – 4/13/2021
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to him, ‘How can this happen?” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:7-15)
Today in the Gospel, Jesus continues his dialogue with Nicodemus, the “reluctant disciple,” who came to Jesus by night because even though he knew that God was working through Jesus, he wasn’t courageous enough to make a commitment and risk being seen with him during the day, something that might compromise his prestige and status among the members of the Sanhedrin.
As Jesus seeks to open the eyes of Nicodemus, he tells him that the focus must be on the cross. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in him.” This is a reminder of the incident in the book of Numbers where, as a punishment for their sins, the Israelites were attacked by serpents. God told Moses to erect a bronze serpent on a pole and all who looked at the serpent were saved.
The result of Jesus “being lifted up on the cross” and his rising and exaltation to the Father’s right hand in heaven, is our “new birth in the Spirit” and adoption as sons and daughters of God. God not only redeems us, but he fills us with his own divine life and power that we might share in his glory. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit that we may have power to be his witnesses and to spread and defend the gospel by word and action, and to never be ashamed of Christ’s Cross.
It’s from Jesus on the Cross that we learn how to unite all our sufferings, hardships, contradictions and difficulties to God. It’s from Jesus on the Cross, ultimately, that we learn how to live with love, because the Cross is not principally a sign of pain and suffering but of the self-giving love that made even that much pain bearable.
But each of us must also accept that it’s not solely about being “born” again from above through the Cross but “living” from above, living by the Holy Spirit who helps us to be buried with Christ so that we may have a newness of life.
Being “born again” by the Spirit is inextricably bound to “living “by the Spirit. It’s only then do we know that our eyes are focused on Jesus Christ. It can’t be a sideways glance. He has to be the center of all that we say and do.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, grant that all my thoughts, intentions, actions and responses may be directed solely to your love and service this day and every day.”
A decisive direction was presented to Nicodemus. Yet the Apostle John does not describe what reaction Nicodemus had to the words of Jesus; the secretive visitor seems to have silently disappeared back into the night. Perhaps St. John did not immediately reveal Nicodemus’s choice because Nicodemus, in a certain way, is each of us. We have met Jesus, we have sat at his feet, and we have heard his words. What will we do?