05292021 – Holy Trinity
Nicodemus is a “cool Biblical figure.” The guy is likeable.
He has everything going for him. He is a member of the Sanhedrin. The Council of Jewish elders. (At any one given time, there are only 70 or 72 of them.) Highly respected. Honored. Above reproach. Really a good man. Caring. Honest. Loving. Fair. He tries. He tries hard.
He is educated.
He has been born into the traditions of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.
He knows his scripture.
He knows the Torah, the Prophets, and the writings…
He knows and understands the laws of the Hebrew Scriptures. We assume he loves the laws of Moses. It is (after all) his bread and butter.
Nicodemus is “a Biblical heavyweight.”
He is a man of “great religious insight and conviction.” He shows an “openness” with regard to his faith.
He questions things…he does not just jump on the bandwagon…because everybody else jumps or takes a leap.
He is his own man and thinks for himself. He tests the waters. He is no fool.
He has been born into the concerns “for holiness and ritual purity.” He is a man of tradition…and he knows the traditions of his people well.
He tries to do everything right.
He attempts to walk humbly with his God. He is not arrogant or rude. And yet, he struggles. He knows he struggles. And others probably know of his struggles, as well.
Perfection is always outside of his grasp. He wants to be better. He wants to be righteous. He desires to be a good example for others. But he is also aware of his failings and failures.
Try as he might, he still blows it, but then, don’t we all? And so, Nicodemus struggles and therefore his visit to Jesus.
Jesus tells him that in order to enter the kingdom of God, he needs to “born FROM ABOVE.”
We get it, we know that Jesus is speaking metaphorically, but as so often happens (in the Gospel of John,) the people to whom Jesus is speaking are operating at a very literal level.
Nicodemus is very literal he wants to be less literal, more metaphorical. But he cannot…
Breaking free, breaking out, changing is difficult, for him, especially given his position and his privilege. Change is always difficult. Pharisees are known for their rigidity.
But as a result of this nighttime meeting with Jesus – he is a stepping out in the right direction. He is trying…
And of course, the reason for this selection of this passage for the celebration of Holy Trinity is because God is mentioned, the Spirit is mentioned, and “the Son of Man” is mentioned. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It has been ripped from its original context and story as almost a kind of proof-texting…
See THE TRINITY is IN the Early Christian Writings, you might say, even if the word, TRINITY (itself) is not. You will not find the words trinity, trinitarian or triune anywhere in Early Christian Writings or in the Hebrew Bible.
And yet, it is DOCTRINE! This is the only Sunday given over to a doctrine of the church.
I like the text because of “the love of God” that is alluded to.
God so loves the world. And dare we say, all of its inhabitants?
He loves the Nicodemus’ of the world.
He loves all those who struggle for righteousness sake.
He loves all those who struggle in any regard. He is with them in the struggle. And he loves those who refuse to struggle…or those who are tired of the struggle. Or those who have given up on the struggle.
Jesus was sent into the world not to condemn it, not to judge it, per se, but to save it. To save us. To save you. To save me. The Spirit as we know was sent to give us guidance and direction and to stand along-side of us.
In the context of Nicodemus…it says to me that God loves us. He loves all of us.
He loves those who oppose us. He loves those who oppose him. Our God is simply a God of Love, as a matter-of-fact, as the Scriptures themselves proclaim – GOD IS LOVE.
Jesus showed us that love in action.
Jesus showed us the extent that God was willing to go to show us HIS LOVE.
The Spirit of the Living God was sent to us IN LOVE, because God could not and would not abandon us. Again, to me, and for me…the Doctrine says, God loves me and will continue to love me. And we for our parts need to be open, maybe MORE OPEN as we attempt to make that love manifest to others…
And as for that Nicodemus guy, strive to be open, like him. Amen.