There’s a house that I regularly drive past that has John 3:3 on a big sign on the wall at the end of their drive. There’s a box next to it offering free bibles. The heart is there, but I would need to sit opposite and see what effect it actually has as an evangelistic endeavour. That said, it had an impact on me.
The verse is in the context of the story of Nicodemus, a religious man who is willing to ask questions of Jesus. He does it quietly and discerningly in the night, and Jesus invests the time in hearing what he’s saying, hearing what he perhaps isn’t saying, and helping him re-frame what is being asked.
Nicodemus wants to know about the Kingdom of God. And here are a couple of key verses that Jesus comes back at him with, including the verse on the wall…
John 3:3 says:
Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
And John 3:5 says:
Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I tell you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”
The rest of it will be worth re-studying again soon, but I want to just take these two, and throw in this third short clip from Luke 17:20-21, do a quick bit of greek with a though, and then leave you to see for yourself if Bastille fits in with it.
Luke 17:20-21 - The Coming of the Kingdom
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
If the Kingdoms is here, in and around you and me, then it is now. So why are we more interested in the verse that talks about “entering” the Kingdom of God, than the verse that says the Kingdom of God has “entered our midst”?
Why are we more bothered about getting into somewhere else than seeing what is around us?
The “See” in John 3:3 is “Idein” in Greek. To me the first thing it makes me think of is “Identify”. The root word means “I see, look upon, experience, perceive, discern, beware, understand.” The usage is all about the meaning of “to become acquainted with by experience, to experience.”
We can see if we are awakened, “re-born” to coin the phrase Jesus uses. Jesus is giving his disciples everything the need to identify, see, realise and experience the kingdom of God that is in their midst.
Everything we need to experience it can be found in Jesus revelation of the divine that is in and through us. Jesus opens our eyes, presents a future that can be golden and bright (though needs some hard work and isn’t all roses!), and gives us a taste of endless love… And we're not just talking about a second life as an escapism, but a second awakening to the potential and possibilities of life in all its fulness in the real world.
The kingdom is here, and now, and ready to be experienced. May we have our eyes opened to it and ask for the future and the present to be one and the same.
If you'd rather listen and come to your own conclusions about the eclectic mix of songs I worked through in Lent 2023, here's the Spotify Playlist!