Jesus and Nicodemus

The Romans have just conquered the city of Jotapata where Josephus had led the Jewish resistance and he is now hiding in a pit. After he is discovered, Vespasian sends Nicanor to convince him to surrender but the other Jews with him won’t allow it.  They all want to commit suicide and kill him too and never surrender to the Romans; so the only way that this man can get out to the kingdom of God is if he dies and is reborn a Roman, unless someone lifts him out of this hole in the ground:

“…Vespasian sent besides these a third tribune, Nicanor, to him; he was one that was well known to Josephusand told him that he had behaved himself so valiantly, that the commanders rather admired than hated him…When he had said this, he complied with Nicanor’s invitation. But when those Jews who had fled with him understood that he yielded to those that invited him to come up, they came about him in a body, and cried out, “Nay, indeed…We will lend thee our right hand and a sword; and if thou wilt die willingly, thou wilt die as general of the Jews; but if unwillingly, thou wilt die as a traitor to them.” As soon as they said this, they began to thrust their swords at him, and threatened they would kill him, if he thought of yielding himself to the Romans.”

– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 3, 8:2-4

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night {when he was in the pit;}, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a {this ;} man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God {seriously, unless I die and am born again, there’s no way I’m getting out to the Romans! ;}. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit {dead;}, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God {these Jews are gonna kill me if I don’t commit suicide, ain’t no way outa here;}. That which is born of the flesh is flesh{alive;}; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit {I’m telling you, like a ghost;}. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof {like “whooooosh” I’m a ghost;}, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit {“she’s like the wind”;}. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel {Rome;}, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen {we can only talk about what we have seen;}; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things {come on, this isn’t that complicated;}, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up {you gotta get me out of this hole! ;}: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life {and stop committing suicide, damn it! ;}.”

John 3:1-15

And there you have it, being “born of the spirit” means exactly what it sounds like, it means you’re dead.  Every time Jesus speaks metaphorically, people take it literally and every time he speaks literally people take it metaphorically. Almost as if they were intentionally trying to misunderstand the entire message or the message was intentionally trying to confuse the reader. Let me paraphrase what Jesus just said. When you are born of the spirit, you are like the wind, we don’t know where you are, we can only talk about what we have seen, I’m just telling you about earthly things, but if someone doesn’t lift me out of this hole that’s what’s gonna happen to me and I’ll never make it out to the Romans except as like a ghost or if I am born again, get it?  That is the real message of this cryptic passage in John.

“Jesus said, “Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. [And there is nothing buried that will not be raised.]””

– Thomas 1:5

 NEXT: See how “Many Disciples Turn Away

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