Skip to content Skip to footer

Well, this has never happened before! After all these years of doing this devotional, we are sticking with yesterday’s passage again so we can unpack the power of this passage to set us up for some real spiritual growth and maturing in 2023!

But be warned: Spiritual maturity takes a willingness to both to hear correction AND embrace the resetting of the whole idea of what a “normal” Orthodox Christian life is all about. And that is going to take humility, courage, attentiveness, and persistence! Be of good cheer. We are all in this together so let’s help each other by allowing “iron to sharpen iron.”

Look again at this pivotal passage from John’s Gospel in John 3:1-15:

At that time, there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nikodemos, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nikodemos said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The Spirit blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, and you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nikodemos said to him, “How can this be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. And 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.”

Jesus confronts the Pharisee Nicodemus and He tells him he needs to be “born from above.” Even though Nicodemus is a scholar of the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew scriptures, he misunderstands the Lord. “How can a man be born when he is old?” And that launches the Lord into His revelation of what the Old Testament has been saying for centuries!

Here are a few examples: From the Prophet Ezekiel – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” And from King David – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” And finally from the Prophet Jeremiah – “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

How could Nicodemus miss this? I guess the same way we miss God’s clear message to each of us over and over again!

And yet, the Promised “recreation” and “reclamation” of humanity is sitting right in front of Nicodemus and us today! The move of God’s grace to take the shadow of the first covenant and transform us from the inside out ALWAYS means a relationship with a real Person. Normal Orthodoxy means the radical reorientation of our Faith from merely an ethical system of behaviors to the internally transformed life of someone who loves Jesus Christ and is motivated by an internal transformation.

OK, let’s keep this going! Part 3 tomorrow and then we will examine the miracle of Jesus healing the divide between the Spiritual and the Material. Fasten your seatbelts and let’s get ready for a radically new “Normal” Orthodoxy!

P.S. “In the running waters of the Jordan River, on this day the Lord of all crieth to John: Be not afraid and hesitate not to baptize Me, for I am come to save Adam, the first-formed man.”

Leave a comment