Jesus about born anew and the Kingdom of God

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INTRODUCTION

March 11, 2021 John 3,14-21 is read at Catholic mass. It is the final part of Jesus’ dialog with Nicodemus. It support the Catholic church Maryann dogma  (that Jesus had no younger brothers). Johns is the “spiritual Gospel,” and it wielded a profound and lasting influence on the development of early Christian doctrine.” Read more in www.britannica.com

How could this secret night dialog end up in John 3? Nothing in the medieval apocryphal gospel Gospel_of_Nicodemus seeems to tell that Nicodemus himself wrote down this dialog.
It could however be Jesus’ disciple John, who shared this dialog to his followers so it finally came written down in John 3 about 100 CE.

I presume that parts of this dialog with time, have been completed with early church interpretations. I am thinking among others about the parts where Jesus exalt himself. That is not part of his teaching “The last will be first in the Kingdom of God” and “Don’t tell anyone” about his miracles. In The message section of this post, I will cut out those pieces so I can concentrate on what I consider to be true Kerygma of Jesus.

I will in this post look at the whole dialog between Nicodemus and John.

INDEX

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The texts

( N.B. The Bible texts are taken from www.vatican.va
Gospel texts below are copied from www.christianwritingtoday.com/free_downloads/WebNT_CWTedition.pdf )

John 3,1-21 finishes book 2 with:

2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in his name, observing his signs which he did.
2:24 But Jesus didn’t trust himself to them, because he knew everyone,
2:25 and because he didn’t need for anyone to testify concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man.

The dialog with Nicodemus

3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
3:2 The same came to him by night, and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.”
3:3 Jesus answered him, “Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see the Kingdom of God.”
3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
3:5 Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God!
3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
3:7 Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’
3:8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
3:9 Nicodemus answered him, “How can these things be?”
3:10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and don’t understand these things?
3:11 Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don’t receive our witness.
3:12 If I told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
3:13 No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
3:14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
3:15 that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
3:17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
3:18 He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.
3:19 This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.
3:20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, lest his works would be exposed.
3:21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.”


3:22 After these things, Jesus came with his disciples into the land of Judea.

Footnotes

3:3 The word translated “anew” here and in John
3:7 (anothen) also means “again” and “from above”. 
3:8 The same Greek word (pneuma) means wind, breath, and spirit.

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The message

As mentioned in my introduction, I do not consider 3:13-18 to be part of Jesus’ true Kerygma so I omit these verses here.

“Nicodemus (/ˌnɪkəˈdməs/; Greek: Νικόδημοςtranslit. Nikódēmos) was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John .” (Wiki )

Gospel about Nicodemus
3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
3:2 The same came to him by night, and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.”

Kingdom of God/Heaven and “born anew”
3:3 Jesus answered him, “Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see the Kingdom of God.”
3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
3:5 Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God!
3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
3:7 Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’

Comment:

The greek version 3:7 of “not be born anew” is “be born from above: gennēthēnai  γεννηθῇ (be born) anōthen ἄνωθεν  (from above)

 According to this verse, human can enter the Kingdom of God if you are “born from above”.

This part makes me wonder once again, what the Kingdom of God is. I dedicated many posts about this but with the help of John 3 and Jesus’ dialog with Nicodemus, I maybe have been given an “answer”.

“Born from above” could be what Eben Alexander and many other experienced with NDE? They had really special experiences, now studied at the University of Virginia.
NDE experiences challenges the idea that our consciousness, our minds are created by the brain”
Bruce Greyson, prof emeritus, Division at perceptual studies, Psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences.

This could mean that we will experience the Kingdom of God/Heaven when we die or end up in NDE.

3:8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Comment:
This text
is one of the many beautiful metaphors of Jesus. Maybe a metaphor of the talking of God and all those who are “born from above” (died and therefore  “born of the Spirit”

3:9 Nicodemus answered him, “How can these things be?”
3:10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and don’t understand these things?
3:11 Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don’t receive our witness.
3:12 If I told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Comment: People who had NDE knows and have seen what we do not see.

3:19 This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.
3:20 For everyone who does evil hates the light and doesn’t come to the light, lest his works would be exposed.
3:21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.”

Comment: Also the Quran tells about all the messengers who god sent and how these were treated.

Pope Francis talked today in Rome about the reading of John 3.

 

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conclusion

The reading today gave me a new perspective of NDE as being told about by Jesus with the words of γεννηθῇ  ἄνωθεν.

Maybe what Eben Alexander experienced, was the Kingdom of God or Heaven.


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