Seeking your truth or ‘the’ truth? Tuesday, 2nd Week of Easter – Acts 4:32-37/John 3:7b-15

Read also based on the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles.

Nicodemus was a seeker but one who had his own preconceived ideas of salvation. For the Jews, their racial birth was the guarantee to enter into the Kingdom of God. For Jesus it was not enough to be born as a Jew by the flesh but to be born of water and the spirt; a spiritual rebirth.

Because you are a seeker it does not mean you are seeking the truth; you could be seeking your truth. We know that Nicodemus was present at the burial of Jesus but unlike the rest of the Sanhedrin that came to ensure that Jesus was put to death, Nicodemus came to give Jesus a Jewish burial. We do not know if this seeker was convinced of the truth of Jesus message or he remained a pious Jew, performing for Jesus the pious burial rights that should be accorded to a Jew.

What we do know is that Nicodemus was a man with questions. There is no evidence that the two questions he asks Jesus came from a stubborn heart or a conniving one that wanted to trap Jesus. Yet he has questions and both of them begin with How… How can a man be born again; how can these things be?

While the Gospels are not biographies that are chronologically arranged, the Gospel of John, in the text of today indicates that Jesus has already had some kind of run in with the Jewish establishment. When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, he confesses that Jesus has worked great ‘signs’; a word in the plural. Yet the Gospel of John has only told us of one sign so far, the sign at the wedding at Cana. One can safely assume that while John mentions seven signs in his Gospel, Jesus worked many more and it is to this that Nicodemus refers to.

What then can be safely assumed from today’s text, is that Jesus also ran into opposition with the Jews. He says, “we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.” Clearly Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus about his rejection by the Jewish religious authorities who while ‘appreciating’ the signs clearly reject his claim to be the Son of Man (verse 13). Jesus accuses Nicodemus and his fellow-leaders of a lack of spiritual insight and a refusal to accept his testimony as coming directly from God: “If you do not believe when I tell you about earthly things, how are you to believe when I tell you about those of heaven?” It is this openness that Jesus is challenging Nicodemus to have.

Jesus now makes a bold and passionate prediction. When the Jews revolted against Moses and God in the desert, God sent serpents to bite them. This sting of death brought the Israelites to their senses and they confess their sin and repent. They plead of Moses to appeal to God. God tells Moses to fashion a bronze serpent so that the Israelites may look at it when they are bitten and thus be saved. Interestingly, God did not take away the snakes, he rather gave them a remedy for their pain. Now, Jesus boldly declares that the sting of sin will be taken away by his death on the cross. Jesus is the cure that forever endures and for those who believe, he offers eternal life.

Finally, the idea behind eternal life means much more than a long or never-ending life. Eternal life does not mean that this life goes on forever. Instead, eternal life also has the idea of a certain quality of life, of God’s kind of life. It is the kind of life enjoyed in eternity. That is what Easter invites us to embrace.

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