Sunday, January 28
Strengthened by the Light
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
There is a refreshing vulnerability in Jesus’ exchange with Nicodemus. Nicodemus approached Jesus, not to accuse him, but to learn from him. He came at night so he might not be seen by those opposed to Jesus’ message. Then he asked human questions of a divine Lord. Of course, he would not be able to fully comprehend Jesus’ words (nor can we). But Jesus responded to the tenderness and willingness Nicodemus showed by speaking a complicated truth as innocently as possible. It was probably a little like trying to explain death to a child – even if we could understand it ourselves, it would be quite a task trying to explain it to an undeveloped mind.
Despite the mysteries in Jesus’ words, there are some truths we can grasp onto. We can cling to the promise that a spiritual life is possible. Jesus spoke cryptically about the flesh and the spirit, but we can sense that a spiritual life contains more hope than a flesh-seeking life. The things of the flesh are those things that we spend tremendous energy hiding in the dark – those things we hope no one will ever know – those things we try so hard to ignore or forget. But the things of the spirit thrive in the light – the things we are proud of – the things we want Jesus to see and to say, “I’m proud of you, too.”
We all have an intricate blending of both the things of the flesh and the things of the spirit. Ironically, the things of darkness hold less power over us when we bring them to light. Those things that cause us the most shame fester in the darkness, but heal in the light. When we muster the courage to risk sharing those things, the outcome is often forgiveness and healing, and our spirits are strengthened and nurtured.
Narrative Lectionary Text: John 3:1-21
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, 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 said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’