Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:9-15 NRSV))
You may remember how Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, most likely so that he would not be seen. Nicodemus is curious, intrigued by Jesus, and he wants to learn more. Jesus tries to explain his purpose of salvation, the work of the Spirit and other “heavenly things.” He uses such phrases as “born from above” and “the wind blows where it chooses” to help clarify what he means. Wise Nicodemus still cannot understand. This is when Jesus asks our question for today. “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
As we grow in faith, as we deepen in our relationship with God, our understanding of the heavenly kingdom gradually reveals itself more clearly. Jesus, the Son of Man, came to reveal this kingdom to us through his life, death and resurrection. The Word has been made flesh, and the Word is present in everything within and around us. As Jesus tells Nicodemus, being born of the Spirit opens up a new way of seeing these things.
Christ (as God’s presence) is also naturally part of God’s creation, making all of creation sacred and holy. How fitting then, that Jesus often used earthly things and earthly examples to teach us about kingdom living and presence. Jesus spoke of mustard seeds, fig trees, soil, salt, stones, birds, wheat, lilies. As we keep seeking the kingdom of God, we would be wise to look to nature and creation, asking the Spirit to reveal what they have to teach us, too.
We are just beginning to see all of the wonders that await us! How incredibly awesome and beyond our comprehension our God is!
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
How do you best see God’s presence (Christ) in the world? Have you caught glimpses of the kingdom of God? What were they? How might you open yourself to greater awareness of this sacred and holy creation, these movements of the Spirit, this present heavenly kingdom? Does this passage give you a new sense of wonder and awe?
If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?