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Monday, May 23, 2011

But I don't get it!

3Jesus said, "You're absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it's not possible to see what I'm pointing to—to God's kingdom."
 4"How can anyone," said Nicodemus, "be born who has already been born and grown up? You can't re-enter your mother's womb and be born again. What are you saying with this 'born-from-above' talk?"
(John 3:3-4)

We began to look at the story of Nicodemus yesterday.  As we continue to day, keep in mind that Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  The Pharisees were religious leaders of the day - supposedly the experts on the interpretation of scripture, the wisdom of the day dwelt in them.  He starts his conversation that late night with Jesus with an observation and a question.  He tells Jesus that people recognize him as a great teacher from God.  He comes to this conclusion because of the simple fact that Jesus has done tremendous miracles in front of them and they cannot deny that God must be behind those miracles.

It is important to recognize that he probably wasn't there as a representative of the Pharisees - otherwise he would not have had to come under the cloak of darkness, hiding the fact that he was consulting with the "great teacher".  Jesus is always aware of the real reason for our "visits" with him, despite our tendency to beat around the bush.  He comes straight to the point of what Nicodemus really needs to know - unless a person is born from above, it is impossible to see what this "great teacher" is pointing to!

Jesus doesn't spend any time contradicting Nicodemus about the fact that he is a great teacher.  He could have started with, "Hey, Dude, don't get me wrong, but great teacher doesn't do me justice!"  Then launched into the fact that he is the Son of God on earth to bring salvation to his people!  But...true to form, Jesus does what no other can do - he meets Nicodemus exactly at the level where Nicodemus could understand him.  He does this by posing a simple parable - unless a man is born from above.

This absolutely flies over the head of Nicodemus.  He just doesn't get it.  In fact, he thinks Jesus is literal in his saying that a man must be "born again".  In turn, he asks Jesus the question, "How can I go back into the womb?"  A legitimate question if one is looking at this idea from a perfectly natural sense.  Our questions often reflect the depth of our revelation of God at that very moment in our lives.  We often have a limited revelation of God wherever it is that we are struggling the most to understand the facts presented to us in the Word, in prayer, etc.

We often approach the revelation of God in his Word, through spiritual teaching, in prayer, in a purely natural or secular manner.  Yet God asks for us to listen through the ears of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit that will reveal deep truths for those with ears to hear and hearts to respond.  Often, we limit our understanding of God and his tremendous love for us because we are simply trying to "pigeon-hole" him into our "framework" of what he is like, how he responds, etc.  God's hope for his kids is that we will stop trying to approach his revelation through our own understanding.

Here is a challenge for you:  The next time you are up against a revelation from God that seems too challenging for you to really "get", simply step back a moment.  In that moment of reflection ask God to help you see this through his eyes instead of through the limitations of your own understanding.  You will be amazed at what God can do when we are willing to stop "processing" his revelation through the limitations of our own past experiences!