Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Do You See the Kingdom?
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
Nicodemus iss coming to visit Jesus by night — in private. He’s trying to wrap his head around the things that this man has been saying but for him, a leader of the Jews, it is difficult. Nicodemus, like others, was awaiting a political kingdom that would overthrow the government. Was Jesus the Messiah? If so, when was this new kingdom going to overthrow the current kingdom?
Jesus has a very firm response for Nicodemus which begins with “very truly” or, in the Greek “Amen, Amen.” In other words — listen up! His problem was that he didn’t have eyes to see the kingdom which was already expanding around him. The kingdom of God was already present on the earth and Jesus, the Messiah, was already ruling. Nicodemus had been concerned that those who were born of Abraham’s seed would be those in this kingdom, but Jesus provides a new way for one to be a part of the kingdom. No longer was it because of a physical heritage, instead it was because one was born by way of the Spirit — or “from above.”
For many years the term “from above” has been translated “born again.” This is a bit of a word play for this could have meant one or the other. Jesus meant “from above” and Nicodemus heard, “born again.” That’s why later he asks how he’s supposed to crawl back into his mother’s womb to be born again. The point is — he doesn’t get the point. The new kingdom is not a physical kingdom, not in its inception, nor in our participation. Unless we are born from above, by way of the Spirit, we will not be able to see the real kingdom of God.
While we may not want to admit it, many of us are like Nicodemus. We want to see the kingdom of God here on earth and we want to see it in the physical realm. Could this be why there are so many grand Cathedrals that have been built through the centuries? They give us comfort for they allow us to see the grandeur of the kingdom — or do they? Unfortunately many of the mighty Cathedrals are in a bit of disarray these days. There is not enough funding to keep them up and within their shadows lie poor communities and the homeless who sleep on her steps.
Could it be that Nicodemus was not the only one who was blind to the kingdom, but that we have also been blind through the years? The kingdom of God was never about a physical kingdom but about the transformation of people — people who became the building blocks of the new temple. As a community of faith, we, the people become the temple in which God is worshiped. As women and men transformed into the image of God we become the living presence of Jesus — or of the kingdom that currently resides here on earth. It is what we do to expand the presence of Jesus in the world that reveals the working of the kingdom. Can you see it?
If we can’t see the kingdom for what it truly is, then maybe we need to ask ourselves whether we have been “born from above.” We must be given new life through the indwelling of the Spirit and then remain in the Spirit on a daily basis — or we won’t see the real kingdom.
Open your eyes today as you walk up and down the streets, or up and down the aisles of a store — and genuinely look for the presence of the kingdom. Then, jump in and participate in his kingdom that brings such hope for peace and transformation to our world.
Lord, may I participate in your kingdom today. Amen.