“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus…” John 3:1 (NIV)
Out of the darkness and into the light of the fire he came.
Prosperous, hung about with all the Pharisaical regalia,
but with a sincerity of eye, a clarity, a way of carrying himself
that spoke of something essentially humble,
of something inherently reverent, in him,
and he bowed before Y’shua, after his
we all know that you are a teacher
after God’s own heart, straight from God.
No one could do all the wonderful things you are doing
without the hand of God being with him.
And Y’shua had smiled in the flickering light,
seeing the wind whipped fire mold the man’s features,
carve them from the substance of the dark,
“You are right! Clearly you, among all these,
are born from above, for unless you are born again
it is not possible that you could see God in what I am doing.”
And he had seen the instant withdrawal, the hesitation,
the calculation enter the eyes, rising up
from somewhere in the man he couldn’t reach,
something in the man he could barely understand,
and yet understood all too well.
“What do you mean, born from above?
How could I, an old man, be born again?
Can I enter my mother’s womb once more?”
And Y’shua tried to see what it was.
Was it humility: an unwillingness to believe
that God would choose such
as this man knew himself to be?
Was it offense? Did he hear “born again”
as the name of something he lacked,
something more Y’shua was saying
he must have to see God?
Was it just the thinking habit of mind,
the need to analyze and control.
Was it just word play?
Another habit of turning aside the truth,
turning it to self-depreciating humor
so it did not cut too deeply?
“You are not hearing me. Let me say it again.
Unless a person is born of water and of spirit
he can not enter God’s kingdom.
What is born of flesh is flesh.
What is born of spirit is spirit.”
Now from caution the face moved to confusion.
The wind stirred the flames and the light danced.
Y’shua could see that he was loosing him.
“Don’t be surprised. What is so strange?
The wind blows where it will, you hear it,
but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.
That is the way it is with those born of the spirit.”
It was intended as reassurance.
It was intended to tell this man that
indeed Y’shua saw before him,
even if he himself did not know it,
one born from above, a living spirit, invaded,
perhaps unknowing by the breath of God.
But now there was fear in the face.
“How can this be?
And now Y’shua saw only reluctance to believe,
a fear of trusting himself to the unknown
and unpredictable God at work here.
How was it that such unbelief could
cripple even those born from above?
“And you are teacher in Israel?”
Was it any wonder the people had so little faith?
“You don’t understand these simple things?
Listen. I am telling you the truth.
I speak only what I know for a fact,
what I see and have seen with my own eyes.
If I tell you these earthly things…
what is happening right here and now…
and you refuse to believe,
then how will you know when I am telling you
the truth about the things of heaven?”
And now it was shock, verging over into anger.
“I tell you the truth, no one knows what goes on in heaven
better than the one who has come from above,
the Son of Man, but I suppose you are going
to have to see the son of man lifted up
like Moses lifted the snake in the desert
before you are cured of this snake bite of unbelief
and know that the son of man is born from above
and that you have eternal life in him.”
“For I tell you, God loves you.
He sent his born-from-above son into this world
so that all who believe in him can have,
can know, eternal life.
He didn’t come to condemn you.
You do that to yourselves when you refuse to believe.
But I tell you, anyone who does believe,
who trusts the Son of Man,
will live forever.”
He looked around at his followers and this new one
clustered in the light of the campfire,
as it flared and flickered and pushed back
this little space in the great dark.
“This is the verdict: those who are bent
on doing wrong hide from the light,
loving the darkness that covers their sin…”
He put his hand on the newcomer’s shoulder
and looked deep into his eyes.
“but those who are doing right,
those who come to the Son and
see him with born again eyes,
love the light and come right out into plain sight,
as you have, and they are the ones born from above,
the ones who will live forever.”
And he, and all his followers, turned to the business
of preparing bed rolls and settling down for sleep.
Nicodemus sat a long time by the remnants of the fire,
watching Y’shua sleep, testing his eyes,
listening for the wind.