Arulvakku

12.04.10 THE SPIRIT BLOWS

Posted under Reflections on April 11th, 2010 by

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews…

Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."…

Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, '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."  (Jn 3:1-8)

 

The dialogue between Nicodemus and Jesus is one of the in-depth discussions Jesus has in this gospel.  This discussion makes the reader to think about the moment of his spiritual birth. Every believer should have had a spiritual birth. It is often forgotten or neglected. One has to review the moment of his spiritual birth.

For a Jew what mattered most was being chid of Abraham. This was the basic thing for a Jew and certainly was so for Nicodemus. But Jesus is bringing in a new idea. He is speaking about a new family. In this family ordinary birth was not sufficient. One needs to be born all over again. One needs to be born ‘from above’. 

When we say ‘born form above’ we mean that the initiative is from God. Born of water and spirit might mean a double Baptism (some say so). Baptism in water would mean entering into the kingdom-movement began by John the Baptist and continued by Jesus’ disciples. (Jn 3, 22ff and 4,1-2). Baptism in the spirit which is the new life that comes from within and it is the one which Jesus offers.  In the early church both were closely linked.


Baptism that Jesus gives was required for the membership in God’s kingdom. Without this one cannot even see the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is open to anyone and everyone. It is like the wind (spirit) that blows. No family or tribe or class or caste or organization or system can take control of it. The wind (spirit) moves where it wills. 

11.04.10 IDENTITY OF JESUS

Posted under Reflections on April 10th, 2010 by

…Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"… (Jn 20,19-31)

 

Disciples would like to have had a personal experience of the risen Lord. Experiences of the others, however personal they might have been, were of no use. Thomas was no excuse to this. He also would like to have had a personal experience. Jesus obliged him.

But the message of Thomas is very strong. Because he said, ‘unless I see the mark of the nails…I will not believe’. Thomas did not say; unless I see the risen Lord in his glory or unless I see the lord with millions of angels around etc. He said that he would believe only if he saw the marks of the nails. For Thomas the belief in the resurrections comes from the sufferings and death of Jesus. Wounds are the signs of resurrection for Thomas.

Jesus also shows him the marks as sign of his identity. So, identity of Jesus is in his sufferings. Resurrection is the result of the sufferings. Sufferings play a major role in the belief of the resurrection. Sufferings only show who Jesus is.

Jesus also said, ‘blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’ Jesus seems to imply that experiences and witnesses are given only to a few. Experiences are not even essential for a life of faith. What is important is the belief. Believing persons are blessed. “My Lord and My God” 

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