Nick… at Night

There’s one question I always ask when I read about someone’s encounter with Jesus in the gospels…

“What’s the spiritual condition of the person talking to Jesus.”

I mean… are they a believer… a seeker… or someone not at all interested in the spiritual side of life?

Most people assume that Jesus spent the majority of His time “evangelizing unbelievers”… so they naturally conclude that we should do the same. Our generation has focused much of its efforts on evangelism… because we believe “that’s WJD”.

Moon over Jerusalem

In this post… we’ll look at an interaction Jesus had with Nicodemus. Most understand this guy to be a “seeker” who is coming to Jesus with questions, but is it possible that he is a believer coming to Jesus to understand more about his Messiah?

Let’s see if we can pull Nicodemus out of the shadows.

What’s Going on Behind the Translation?

There is a lot happening “behind the curtain” of the English translations of John 3:1-21. While I won’t be able to take space to unpack all of it here, I would like to give you some things for further study.

First… John, the author, used one word over and over again in verses 3-5. The Greek word “pneuma“, which can mean a “breath”, a “blast of air”, or “wind” but is often interpreted as “spirit”. In scripture, this can often refer to the Holy Spirit. In John 3:5-8… everywhere the English translation says “wind” and/or “Spirit”… it’s the same word (pneuma) in the Greek language. (For a more complete discussion… please read Zane Hodges’ article).

Second… the Greek phrase that’s often translated, “born again” can also be translated “born from above” (meaning Heaven). Jesus was using this linguistic ambiguity to teach a spiritual truth. Nicodemus originally thought Jesus meant “born again” (physical birth) when Jesus really meant “born from above” (spiritual birth). Jesus liked to play with phrases like that.

Third… there are a bunch of “you” statements in the interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus. The Greek language uses two different words to distinguish whether a “you” is singular (directed to one person) or plural (sometimes in English we say “you all”). English is not so clear. The English language only has one “you” that functions as both a singular “you” and a plural “you all”. I believe the English language brings a lack of clarity to Nicodemus’ conversation with Jesus.

With that said… let’s take a look at the interaction Jesus had with Nicodemus. Continue reading “Nick… at Night”

The Baptist is Coming… and Jesus’ 8th day.

Following up on my last post… I’d like to take a look at some more examples of justified, Old Testament saints, being used by God to welcome The Messiah to the earth. In Luke 1 we are introduced to the parents of John the Baptist. Again… it is important to pay attention to the way people are described in the text. I believe it gives a clue to the content of their souls.

Luke 1:5–7 (NASB95)

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.

When God chose a couple to bring John the Baptist into the world… he chose two people who were “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” These two people were people of faith… true believers in God… prior to their call to be the parents of John the Baptist.

I know this might be obvious… but I’m not sure people always pay attention to this context. Continue reading “The Baptist is Coming… and Jesus’ 8th day.”

The Arrival of The Messiah

It’s about time we jump into the text… and get our feet wet in the gospels.

We’ve talked about context… and getting to know the neighborhood… and the promised Messiah. Now lets just look closely at the arrival of that Messiah. We’ll ask the question… “When little baby Jesus arrived, was there anyone, in faith, looking for Him”?

Matthew 1:18–19 (NASB95)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

You may have already noticed it. How is Joseph described? The text says he was “a righteous man”. How should we understand that description? There are a couple possible interpretations.Sometimes the term is used to describe those who think they are righteous… but they really aren’t (Matthew 9:11-13, Luke 15:7,Luke 18:9, Luke 20:20). These are the self-righteous folks who are more concerned with their outward appearance than their inner spirituality. Jesus warns us against being like these people (Matthew 23:27-28).Other times the word “righteous” is used, from God’s perspective, to describe the true spiritual state of someone. Continue reading “The Arrival of The Messiah”