Understanding Truth (John 3:9-11)
“How can this be?” queried the dark stranger sitting with Jesus by the flickering flame of the lamp. We don’t hear the deep silence following that question, but I’m sure it was there. Nicodemus’ question was taking him along a passage of his mind he had previously barred himself from entering. He had never before let himself entertain the thought that his own matrix of spirituality was missing some important information. For a Pharisee, it was all ‘do and do, do and do’. The role and culture of the Pharisaical tradition was based on the rehearsal and practice of the oral Torah – thousands of laws prescribing the minutiae of daily life. Doing things a particular way comprised his religion’s understanding of relationship with Almighty God.
Jesus brings into the conversation a new understanding. He uses phrases like, “I tell you the truth”, and “do you not understand?” to introduce the concept of objective knowledge. He is saying that what you do must be based on truth, not on a collection of human-created rules or on denying that truth exists at all. Truth, Jesus adds, is God’s domain. Begin to absorb truth into the core of your being and your life story will take a new direction. Authenticity comes from aligning yourself with an ever-increasing knowledge of God, not with religious mandate.
As we begin to understand Jesus’ words we see the effect truth could have on our own life. Our own story has often been fraught with confusion because we act without full understanding, such as:
We fail to show compassion for others’ weaknesses because we do not fully appreciate our own.
We fail to forgive others because we do not grasp that we are equally guilty of offenses.
We fail to persevere in difficult relationships because we do not recognize that true love is patient, kind, not self-seeking or easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs.
We fail to submit ourselves to our Creator because we do not realize that His ways are the only means of ever experiencing true joy and fulfillment.
Jesus is a reliable teacher. We can trust that His discussion with Nicodemus was intended for our ears too. He is not limited by time and space. We, like Nicodemus, have much to learn in this adventure of living. Jesus has helped us see that our story is designed to contain two things, so far: firstly, a second birth – His Spirit within ours (John 3:1-8), and secondly, a deeper knowledge – Jesus Himself communicating that knowledge through the Bible (John 3:9-11). He’s making us an offer we have the right to refuse, but we will never find true fulfillment unless we accept. I’m accepting it. Are you?
Jesus, come fill our lives with the newness You promise. Embed truth in our deepest being by Your Spirit within us, guiding us every step of the way. Help us live lives consistent with the truth that You love all people. What a gift!
(Photo Credit: WIkimedia Commons, Maksim)