Wednesday, May 26, 2010

John 3 -- dangling conversation

What can you find to say about this chapter that is fresh? Well, since this is God's own word, something new to think about comes into focus every time you read it. For example, let's look again at the way the conversation got started:
Joh 3:1,2 Yahudiler'in Nikodim adlı bir önderi vardı. Ferisiler'den olan bu adam bir gece İsa'ya gelerek, "Rabbî, senin Tanrı'dan gelmiş bir öğretmen olduğunu biliyoruz. Çünkü Tanrı kendisiyle olmadıkça kimse senin yaptığın bu mucizeleri yapamaz" dedi.
Joh 3:3 İsa ona şu karşılığı verdi: "Sana doğrusunu söyleyeyim, bir kimse yeniden doğmadıkça Tanrı'nın Egemenliği'ni göremez."
A renowned religious scholar sneaks in to see Jesus at night. On the one hand, he's intrigued by the miracles Jesus performs, kindly deeds of supernatural power that obviously had divine origin: "Unless someone comes from God, these miracles he would not do." On the other hand, this visit happens at night. This new teacher did not come up through approved channels, and those who visibly associate with him risk their own reputations. "So, Jesus. We know you're something special. Shall we have a theological discussion?"

The reply is startling: "Unless someone is born anew / from above, he can't even see what's going on." Or, to paraphrase, Jesus is asking, "Is there any point to this conversation?"

The point is not the credibility of Jesus and His claims. The point is the condition of the person considering those claims. God, for reasons of His own, makes some His own. Those who are His own, His elect, get the point. The rest -- don't. As a wise Jesuit once said, "The Gospel is like a joke told to a circle of men. And one man smiles."

Human perceptions are maddening in their complexity. Ask anyone who is suffering from autistic spectrum disorders. Such a person often has incredibly intense focus on some matters -- but is oblivious to other real-world issues. By definition, we can not see our blind spots. Some people consider the life of Jesus, and fall on their knees, knowing that this one man's biography is the key that unlocks the riddles of the universe, and brings the worshiper directly into the presence of the Creator. Other people are indifferent. And only God ultimately knows why.

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