The moon, we are told by the poet, never holds a grudge. If we can just make the day, night will soothe our burning-ed eyes.
After work one evening, having made it through one more day, an important young man hurried off to meet our Perfect Villain. I do not think this was their only meeting. The important young man was Nicodemus, who most possibly met Jesus another time as “the rich, young ruler.” In sunlight or shadow, Nicodemus is a hard sell. As “the rich, young ruler,” he sidles off saddened at the cost of eternal life; he hoped to pay Jesus the least he could give for the most he could get.
As the Pharisee-come-by-night, Nicodemus comes to Jesus hard on the Cleansing of the Temple. Oh, how the Pharisees wanted to do for the Temple what Jesus did for His Father’s House!
Pharisees are Separatists, Purifers Pharisees are Puritans. In our day, they would be called Fundamentalists. Pharisees do not change, any more than Puritans change.
Puritans become Demanders.
Demanders measure others with a home-made yard-stick.
English Puritans morph into American Demanders;
they hang old women for witches.
A Puritan Demander does not change. He states his case. Those who can hear do hear. He speaks, you change. How dare a Common Man, A Perfect Villain, a lisping hick from Galilee tell a Pharisee to be born again.
Centuries later mystics take “born again” to use for “Christian reincarnation.” Water is the sac of fluid around a fetus. Blood is the mess at birth. There is no “reincarnation,” you know. What we mean we say “reincarnation” is the transmigration of the soul. The body is not reconstituted, it is dead and dissolved. The soul just moves from body to body in classic “reincarnation.”
Jesus does not teach the transmigration of the soul. He dies.
puts back on
the body He took off
Jesus is speaking clearly when He tells Nicodemus to be born from above (the Greek word here is anothen), Nicodemus knows Jesus means something other than literal birth. He uses a rabbinic teaching method to draw out of Jesus His actual meaning. Nicodemus states a literal impossibility to make Jesus say what He means. Pharisees are always trying to get Jesus to say what He means.
Jesus uses irony to inform Nicodemus, wondering, aloud, how a teacher of Israel can be so simple. If this is irony, it may also be a subtle use of humor to poke back at the grinning Pharisee.
Jesus takes Nick
on a dazzling trip
out to a place,
where all of life is just like Eden.
Rain does not fall there.
Water bubbles up a happy stream.
No stickers, nothing bites, no one you love dies to stays dead.
In the society of Eden,
death is temporary,
life is durable.
Just as He cleansed the Temple, Jesus will cleanse the soul for God’s use. If we can just make it through this day, we can run down to Him, as shadows gather. He does not hold a grudge.