Sunday, February 01, 2015

Jn 2:13-3:8

When John says in 2:25 that Jesus "knew what was in man," the reader supplies the contrast to the end of the litotes, "and it's not good."  That certainly allows a smooth segue to the ideas in 3:3.

We should hold the universal common idea of Protestantism, the idea of being born again, just a little bit behind our back in our hearing Jesus speak to Nicodemus of it "the first time."  Jesus was not alluding to "just like they say in the hymns, born again...." but stating it for the first time.  It touched Nicodemus that way too.  And doing that a little, we may notice that being born again is preparation for something in the future, the seeing of the kingdom of God (3:3), and the entering of the kingdom of God (3:6).  It is preparation of the most necessary kind, a "sine qua non" preparation, a "without which, none" preparation.

Notice the gentleness of the argument Jesus makes toward Nicodemus.  It is the Lord's response to Nicodemus' attempt at deference in 3:2.  Jesus is teaching him what he needs to know, and we know from reading about Nicodemus later, that it had fruition in him.  Jesus first speaks of it in the third person, which is a teacher's way not to inflame resentment at feeling insulted.  Then he cautions Nicodemus even as he applies it to him, don't marvel.  Don't get your dander up.  A model of teachers' patience.

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