"We know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God."
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night.
He comes stating what he knows, what he understands about Jesus.
Nicodemus says “We know”.
Nicodemus thinks he is being positive and complimentary to Jesus by saying what he does.
He thinks he is showing an awareness of what is happening.
He thinks he is showing an awareness of who Jesus is and where he is from.
Jesus’ answer shows him how far off he is:
"Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."
Jesus has heard what Nicodemus has said.
He hears the long struggle Nicodemus has had with his thoughts to get to this point.
Jesus sees that Nicodemus has reached a certain point of understanding.
It’s not that Nicodemus is wrong.
Not at all.
Rather it is just that his understanding is at a certain stage.
Jesus’ reply reveals the greater depth that Nicodemus is ready for.
This is how this Jesus stuff works.
We come along thinking we understand it, or have some idea of what it is we are doing, only to have our concepts changed or altered or enhanced.
It never is how we think it is.
Our understandings of
who Jesus is,
where he is from
and what he did,
and what he will do in our lives
is always different than what we discover when we open ourselves to listen and be present
rather than insisting on our understanding and ideas.
And it is like that when we come to church. “We know this is what goes on here. We know that Jesus is here. We know…..”
And when we do approach church or our faith in such a way and don’t allow ourselves to be present to what is really going on, we may miss what is really happening. We are like Nicodemus.
But Jesus is like Jesus in the passage we heard.
We think you have got it, we understand what it is all about and our place in it, and then Jesus comes along with something that will make us realise that our understanding is only a pale reflection of what it will be.
This is the way of faith.
This is the way of the journey.
We learn to a certain point and feel our way around that and feel comfortable in it and then can state it with some certainty.
Then it is revealed to us that it actually goes deeper.
This is how faith works.
Whether you have been doing this for 70 years or this is your first time here.
Words or phrases we think we understand are all of a sudden shown to have a meaning far beyond what we thought. And that is a wonderful thing.
Faith is journey, not an on and off, not a left or right, not an up or down, not a dark or light. It is all those things. We stumble run jump and crawl our way through it all.
As Jesus pulls Niocodemus out of his understanding into a place where it can grow even further,
he does the same with us.
When we say, “we know” Jesus listens and invites us to go deeper.
And the way we are asked will always depend on where we are, and how ready we are.
And how the asking happens will depend on how present we are to what is happening.
It may come from being at church,
or it may come while watching some rubbishy thing on the telly.
It may come from a sound a baby makes,
or it may come from the way the wind feels.
As Jesus says to Nicodemus:
"The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Being present to God does not mean understanding what it all means. It is rather a state of gentle readiness.
Saying “we know” is really saying “we are ready to know more.”