Updated: Feb 4
There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, 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.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 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.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just 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.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
This is the Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the First Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. This Sunday is also known as Trinity Sunday. This selection will next be read aloud in church by a priest on Sunday, May 27, 2018. This is important because Jesus explained the requirement of being reborn from above, having been baptized by the “water” of the Holy Spirit.
In this reading, the setting should be realized. It is not stated specifically, but it can be deduced from clues in the text. John’s second chapter ended by John writing how Jesus had just spent the first Passover Festival of his ministry in Jerusalem. Jesus had made a scene by overturning the vendors’ tables; and when he was questioned about what authority he had to do such a thing, Jesus said, if the Temple were to be destroyed, he could raise it again in three days.
During that week, Jesus then displayed signs that drew believers to him; and it was those acts that made Jesus stand out as a new rabbi with an an ability to get attention; and that was what drew “a leader of the Jews” to visit Jesus.
Where Nicodemus encountered Jesus is not clearly stated. Due to the high ranking that Nicodemus held, it can be assumed that this meeting was private, rather than public. As it occurred at night, and Nicodemus came to Jesus, it makes sense that the encounter took place at a house or lodge. Since Jesus lived in Galilee, the assumption can be that the visit would be in or near Jerusalem, since the Passover had just ended and Nicodemus was a leader of the Jews because of his Temple connections.
An additional background element worth noting is that Jesus’ first Passover Festival as a rabbi did not have the accompaniment of twelve disciples. John wrote in his first chapter that Andrew, Simon-Peter, Phillip and Nathanael had followed Jesus. Matthew and Mark tell how James and John of Zebedee had been added as disciples. Still, none of the other Gospel writers tell of this first episode of Jesus overturning the vendors’ tables, which implies their presence in Jerusalem for that Passover Festival was less organized, or Jesus had instructed those six to maintain a distance from him. This makes John’s presence stand out.
The lack of other disciples being mentioned in Jesus’ first Passover Festival, or other mentioning his acts then, becomes evidence that John was not a disciple of Jesus. We can see this by grasping the big picture that joins all the Gospels. John witnessed Jesus’ first disciples after John the Baptizer had baptized Jesus, but John did not name himself as a disciple. John made no mention of James or another John, nor a relationship with a man named Zebedee. John wrote of the wedding at Cana, saying the disciples of Jesus attended with him, which sets John apart from that designation. Now, we see how no other Gospels tell this story of Nicodemus, with John being the only one to name Nicodemus. By John writing of this encounter that Jesus had with Nicodemus, when no others did, that shows Nicodemus avoided being seen meeting with Jesus, and adult, male disciples could be called legally as witnesses, should Jesus prove to be an inciter of rebelliousness. For John to be a witness says John was not an adult, thus no threat as a voice that could be heard.
It is important to note that John wrote how an important Pharisee named Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night.” This implies several things that can go unseen. Seeing the unseen requires putting oneself in the Gospel story, seeing the story unfold as a natural event, rather than a supernatural, fantasy-like imagination. This story did not happen in a vacuum, as it is in chronological sequence with the surrounding text written by John. It happened in real life, where seeing oneself as a first century Jew, not a twenty-first century Big Brain, allows the unwritten reality become visible.
• First, this encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus happened after the Passover Festival (an eight-day event) had ended. We know this timing because John’s second chapter ended with that event, stating “Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.” (John 2:23) The chronology then follows with this event, putting Nicodemus in a meeting with Jesus. This says Jesus was still in or near Jerusalem.
• Second, as a Galilean living in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13), Jesus would have been lodged somewhere near Jerusalem for the Passover week. One could assume he stayed with Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha, and her brother Lazarus, who lived in a house in Bethany. Bethany is only fifteen furlongs (“less than two miles”) from Jerusalem (John 11:18).
• Third, because Nicodemus would not have known where Jesus would have been staying, as an unknown person prior and especially as just one man among so many Pilgrims in Jerusalem that would remain close until Pentecost. Jesus’ attraction was as a new “Rabbi” teaching at Jerusalem’s Temple, one who caused the Temple leaders to want to know more about him. Therefore, this means Nicodemus was assigned to follow Jesus to his place of lodging, after the Passover week was over.
• Fourth, for a Pharisee to travel at “night,” such travel could be dangerous; but the Greek word “nyktos” does not necessarily mean darkness, such as after sunset. The Hebrew clock refers to “night” as the hours between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM. The sun is still giving light to the earth at 6:00 PM in the spring. The Passover Festival (always between 15 Nissan and 21 Nissan), is sometime between mid-April and mid-May, depending on the year, with spring occurring on March 20-21. The days last longer than the nights, once spring arrives. This means Nicodemus followed Jesus while it was early evening (technical “night”) and sunlight was still out.
• Fifth, to have a “ruler of the Jews” to “come to Jesus,” the motivation was not personal, but business related. The eyes of all Jewish leaders would have been on this newcomer, because Jesus was attracting large crowds and displaying signs of divine powers. One can then assume that Nicodemus was sent to visit Jesus, in a private rather than public place, for the purpose of recruiting Jesus (so to speak) to the philosophical ideology of the Pharisees and other “rulers of the Jews.”
• Sixth, Nicodemus came “by night,” which means he followed Jesus and John “by night,” which says such late travel had reason. Rather than say Nicodemus was sneaking around under the cover of darkness, like a thief, one should assume a leader of the Jews would not risk anyone identifying him in that scenario. It makes more sense to see how Nicodemus walked with other Jews along a well-traveled road, as a typical exit from the holy city to lodging places. This exodus being normal at night says it meant the last day of the Passover Festival was on a Shabbat, such that travelling 2 miles would have been forbidden by Jewish law on that day. Therefore, Jesus and John departed Jerusalem for the 2 mile walk to Bethany around 6:05 PM, when it technically began Sunday, the first day of the week. This means that Nicodemus followed Jesus and John as if routinely traveling, to see where they were going.
• Finally, John was inside this setting, meaning he was staying in the same place as Jesus. The disciples would have separate places to go, each having made his own lodging arrangements. With Jesus going to Bethany to lodge, this says John was a relative of Jesus. This would then imply that Mary, Martha and Lazarus were also relatives of Jesus, with none of them deemed disciples. John had traveled with Jesus prior to the start of his ministry and witnessed the selection of four of Jesus’ disciples because he was related to Jesus and traveling with Jesus naturally. This means John saw Jesus as his teacher (“Rabbi”), just as did Mary Magdalene and the others in Bethany did, but not because John and the others sought to follow the Messiah. John referred to himself and the other relatives as “the one who Jesus loved.” This was because Jesus hugged and kissed his family as a personal way of displaying familial love. That was different from the teacher-student relationship that Jesus had with his disciples and other followers.
By having this sense of the surroundings and timing of a visit by an important Pharisee, one can completely understand why Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, 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.” That greeting meant Jesus’ first Passover Festival was complete and it impressed those who watched his every move.
To understand how Jesus heard those words, it is important to know John had written prior (in Chapter 2), “Jesus would not entrust himself to [the many people who believed in Jesus he had encountered in Jerusalem], for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (John 2:24-25) This says Jesus had leaders and pilgrims who had expressed recognition of his powers over the eight days of the festival, but he was not letting any of that go to his head.
Now, a chosen delegate of the Sanhedrin had again praised Jesus as sent by God. Rather than Jesus answering, “Why thank you,” to Nicodemus, we should intuit that Jesus “knew what was in” Nicodemus, knowing his words of praise were empty and void of true meaning. Because Jesus knew Nicodemus was himself not from God and only knew tricks that amazed common Jews with supposed acts approved by God, as if presented with “the presence of God,” Jesus pointed out a truth that he knew.
Jesus said in reply, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” That meant Jesus had just told Nicodemus, “You wouldn’t recognize true righteousness if God stood directly before your eyes, in human form.”
To see the kingdom of God means to see spiritually, which cannot be done with physical eyesight. To see spiritually means letting one’s brain-fed ego melt away, so a divine Mind leads one’s vision. That means being reborn via the Holy Spirit. That becomes the only way one can truthfully say one knows Jesus had been sent by God, regardless of what words and feats he had been witnessed saying and doing. That divinity also allows one to see clear through the facades of those who pretended to be holy; and Nicodemus was reeking of the worldly success that comes from selling religion for personal gain. There was not any righteousness in Nicodemus.
When we then read how “Nicodemus said to [Jesus], “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” this is a classic example of how people still today reject this concept of needing to be “born from above.”
Nicodemus’ response shows how people read the literal word (or a foreign language translation of the original text) and latch hold of one preconception of meaning, totally disregarding any other sense of meaning. Nicodemus heard the word that translates as “being born” (from the root Greek word “gennaó”) and then could only understand that word as meaning, “enter a second time into the mother’s womb.”
This is a classic example of Big Brain Syndrome. It is how so many English-speaking Christians only know of the English translations read aloud in church or read in a personal Holy Bible owned. Few realize the multiple varieties of translations and the differences, other than the “ye” and “thou” of King James’ English is now “you” (singular) and “you” (plural). God forbid anyone suggest, “You know, the Greek (or Hebrew) can also say something else.” The Big Brain screams, “The why didn’t the Biblical writer say that?!?!”
In my mind, Nicodemus was an intellectual, who studied Mosaic Law and knew it backwards and forwards. For all he thought he knew, he knew nothing of true value. He only knew enough to refuse to know more. Thus, he was trying to show his intellect to Jesus, not to prove how smart he was, but to belittle the intellect of Jesus.
It was this high view of himself that had made Nicodemus a wealthy Pharisee and leader of the Jews. Here was this Jesus fellow, a newcomer (and obviously not upper crust, having come from Galilee), spouting off about being “born from above,” which Nicodemus thought meant being born of the upper class. Once one is born into a lower class (the one of one’s parents), one could not be rebirthed by one’s mother into a higher class of Jews.
In this intellectual way that Nicodemus knew, I see him as a parallel character to Judas Iscariot. From the discovery of the Gospel of Judas, we learn that he was also an intellectual, one who debated religion and philosophy with Jesus.
Nicodemus, like Judas, was more interested in picking Jesus’ brain than actually listening to what Jesus had to say. This attraction to the Big Brain might actually be a clue about the contact Judas had with the Sanhedrin, when he finally decided to betray Jesus. His liaison may well have been Nicodemus, although that is not stated as fact.
In order to see how Nicodemus responded to Jesus by hearing on a fixated level, unable to comprehend what Jesus said, look at how modern Christians show the same errors of reason. Pentecostals read that the disciples became capable of “speaking in tongues” on the Day of Pentecost, so they think “Pentecost” means “speaking in tongues.” Still, on a much grander scale, Christians read and state belief in John the Baptist saying, “I baptize with water, but one will come after me who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” They read those words and translate spiritual matters in physical terms.
So many Christians think water is the only way that baptism (a word that literally means, “dunking under water”) can only be with physical water, so holy baptism must mean by a priest, using blessed water. John the Baptizer was a holy priest, even though he was not a Temple priest AND he said baptism by physical water only offered a temporary cleansing of sins. Physical water cannot offer eternal cleansing. This is precisely how Nicodemus heard what Jesus said, when he spoke of being “born with water and Spirit,” so Nicodemus needs to be seen as a reflection of all modern Christians who think they know some stuff, when the need to shut up and listen to what Jesus says.
This is why Jesus then responded to Nicodemus by saying, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’” Let’s break that down slowly.
1. “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” is a statement of truth. It means Jesus spoke from the Father, not from a human brain.
2. The Greek states this in reverse order, with a comma separating it, as: “if not anyone is born of water and Spirit , not is he able to enter into the kingdom of God.” This use of “water” means being emotionally moved to seek God in one’s life. Water is one of the four basic elements of life, esoterically speaking, where the fluidity of water is reflective of the changing state of emotions.
Because love is an emotion, the use by Jesus here is saying one cannot enter heaven without the love of God within one’s heart. This means marriage to God, and becoming a bride to God. The power of “water” cleansing one’s soul means one’s self-ego must be emotionally scrubbed from one’s being, making one cleansed by the water of emotion that makes one subservience to God’s Will.
3. The conjunction “and” (“kai”) means “in addition to” water, the soul must be “born again” through the Holy “Spirit.” Because the “water” of emotions is a sensation of the soul within the human flesh, it is physically connected. That physicality must then be enhanced by divine spirituality.
4. The soul can only be cleansed by the presence of God touching it, which comes ethereally via the Holy Spirit. Once that soul change occurs, one is no longer banished from entering the kingdom of heaven. Thus, Jesus just told Nicodemus what soul salvation required.
5. When Jesus then said, “What is born of the flesh is flesh,” the use of “flesh” (Greek “sarx”) means “materially” or “born of this world.” This is a statement that a soul born into a body of flesh is made one with the material and physical, not the spiritual. It also means that washing a body of flesh with physical water has no lasting effect, as the flesh will always get dirty again. That implication is that a soul born into flesh cannot keep its flesh from sinning, because of the flesh keeps being influenced by the physical world. As the body goes, so too does the soul go.
6. By saying, “what is born of the Spirit is spirit,” it is important to know how the literal Greek contains a comma, stating, “that having been born of the Spirit (capitalized “Πνεύματος”) , is spirit (lower case “πνεῦμά”).” Because the soul is the “spirit” (lower case), it is then the “spirit” of the “flesh” that is transformed by “having been born of the Spirit” (capitalized). This presence (birth or rebirth transformation) of the Holy Spirit then enters the soul being (Greek word “estin” as “is”), so one’s soul spirit is one with the Holy Spirit.
7. Jesus then mocked Nicodemus by saying, “Do not be astonished” (from the Greek word “thaumasēs”), as Jesus knew the soul of Nicodemus and knew Nicodemus was mocking his use of “born from above.” Jesus repeated, “You must be born from above,” where “Dei” is an addition that is capitalized, thus emphasizing “It is necessary, inevitable, duty, and proper” to be “born from above,” as there is no other way to see the kingdom of God.
With those statements understood, Jesus then said, “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.”
Here it is very important to grasp how “wind” comes from the exact same word (“pneuma”) that was used in the previous segment of words that are translated as “spirit is.” “Wind” is the same as “breath.” Both “wind” and “spirit” are the same, as is “breath” and “spirit.” This means both words state an unseen forces of movement. This means that some will read this and think of the physical movement of air molecules, where the rotation of the earth and the formation of clouds (weather patterns) are based on prevailing “winds” that circulate around the globe. In computer models today, we can track and predict where the “wind blows,” to some degree of accuracy, but this is not what Jesus meant by using those terms.
The Greek word “pnei” is translated as “blows,” but can just as equally say “breathes.” The Greek notion of the Four Winds (North, South, East, and West) was they were controlled by the gods, as entities that could not be foreseen.
As the “breath” of God that controls climate, the implication was humans can only know God has acted (by “sounds”), but humans cannot know those acts before hand nor explain sudden happenings as evidence of God. Therefore, the confusion ears like those possessed by Nicodemus hear, “the wind blows,” while the intent of Jesus was to say “the spirit breathes.” One is intellect, while the other is faith.
This statement by Jesus can then be read on two levels, one where the soul spirit is led by the enticements of the world, so that it is said, “a rolling stone gathers no moss.” Nicodemus would have thought he was impervious to such winds of change, as he was firmly attached to the Law. However, Nicodemus was moved by the winds of thought that would overcome the Sanhedrin, so the sounds they made were secret, so no one knew where their new laws came from. It was the common Jews who were always rolling, gathering no understanding of Scripture “moss.”
Jesus, as the opposite of Nicodemus and the other rulers of the Jews, was also unable to control where the Father would send him. That was the meaning of “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The inner voice of the Holy Spirit made sounds that no one else could hear, much less see where they were coming from. Jesus spoke from the Spirit when he encountered Nicodemus at his door, when he began speaking of being “born from above.”
When John recorded that Nicodemus questioned Jesus, asking, “How can these things be?” Jesus asked Nicodemus, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?”
We can laugh today at how Jesus turned the table on Nicodemus, but those laughs are a sign of having Big Brain Syndrome. People today slap Jesus on the back and think, “You go guy. Let him know how little he knows,” when Christians today are just as ignorant. Being Christian means one’s soul spirit is Spirit led. We should all be “teachers of Israel,” but are we?
Can you sit down with someone and explain the Holy Spirit convincingly, without knowing this Spirit personally? Can you explain what it means to be reborn, in ways that others can feel the truth in your words?
In this regard, Jesus then said to Nicodemus, “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.”
Here, Jesus spoke in the first person singular when he said, “I say to you” (“legō soi”), and then he switched to the plural “we,” saying, “we know we speak,” and “we have seen, we bear witness to,” leading to his saying, “the witness of us.” This is not Jesus speaking for the many like him in the world, or of he and his six disciples to-date, or even of himself and young John. Instead, Jesus was speaking for himself (“I”), who was “spirit” joined with “Spirit,” such that “we” meant Jesus and God, in union through the Holy Spirit. “US” is then the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – together in one.
When one is “born from above,” then one is joined with “higher” associates, speaking from divine wisdom. Keep in mind how this lesson is taught on “Trinity Sunday.”
Jesus then continued to berate Nicodemus, saying, “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
The earthly comparison to “wind blows” could not be grasped by Nicodemus, as his brain was only geared to know what he had been taught to know, by his keepers in the Temple, who refused to hear any words that were outside the limits of the box they lived within (the Law, which made them rich and powerful). Nicodemus would not allow himself to see “born from above” as anything other than “born from a mother,” as leopards cannot change their spots. “Above,” to Nicodemus, meant wealth, power, influence, prestige, reputation, all of which was inherited from one’s parents. Nicodemus had nothing to gain and everything to lose by allowing himself to see “born from above” as being one with God, baptized by the Holy Spirit.
Nicodemus could not risk losing what he had worked so hard to gain. Religion was a practice for him to use to his benefit. If he personally knew the plurality of which Jesus spoke, he would have to cease being who he was. Is this not the way things are today, for so many who use the church as a data base for financial networking? Are Christians experiencing “we” as one with Jesus Christ? Or, are Christians an “I” ego, who believes a Jesus bumper sticker that blesses them with wealth and power?
When Jesus said, “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man,” this was not heard by Nicodemus as Jesus referring to himself as “born from above.” Keep in mind that Jesus was just beginning his ministry and was still just under three years away from his Ascension. The Big Brain causes Christians to jump to that conclusion, knowing the end of the story while re-reading from the beginning.
Nicodemus did not hear those words that spoke of “ascended to heaven” by ears that knew Enoch ascended to heaven (“And God took Enoch” – Genesis 5:24) and how Nicodemus left the door open during the Seder meal for the possible return of Elijah, who ascended to heaven (“and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” – 2 Kings 2:11). Nicodemus was not calculating in his brain how Jesus meant Jesus was the Son of God.
Nicodemus heard Jesus say (literally from the Greek), “No one has gone up into heaven , if not the one out of heaven having come down , the son of mankind , who is in heaven.” This made Nicodemus think several things:
1. The Pharisees believed there was a Sheol, which was where all souls went and hung out until the end of the world (with a couple of exceptions that were ignored). The souls of Jews could be redeemed by the Messiah at that time, who was prophesied to come. The Sadducees did not believe in heaven, hell, or Sheol, as they saw death as the end of everything that was relative to a soul.
2. God made Adam (Hebrew meaning “Man”) in heaven, as Adam and Eve could hear and know God as no mortal human can. God breathed life into clay (or dust), which was the truth of being “born from above.” Adam was a we, because he was one with God, in the Eden of earth, where God, Son, and the Holy Spirit dwelled together.
3. Adam was the Son of God who was made man, believed to be the father of all mankind. Nicodemus heard Jesus speak of this holy patriarch, who had no mother from which he was born.
4. When Jesus said Adam was “who is in heaven,” that was news to Nicodemus. Genesis 5:5 says, “So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.” There was no statement of where Adam’s soul went after death.
Still, Jesus made a point that made philosophical sense to a man of intellect. Why would God not allow His Son back into heaven?
While Nicodemus was pondering that brain-teaser, Jesus then said, “And just 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.”
That was a reference to Numbers 21:9, which says, “And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.”
Nicodemus did not realize that Jesus spoke in metaphor, where he was the model of righteousness (raised on a standard, not a cross), as the metal (bronze) of one’s soul having overcome the sins of a mortal being (poisonous snake bites), who would save countless souls from reincarnation or damnation. However, Nicodemus understood that the symbolism of having been bitten by a deadly poisonous snake and only having a bronze snake on a pole to look at for life, he might have had a twinkle of insight that one has to die of snake venom to be reborn as a truly righteous Israelite.
Since “everlasting life” was either Sheol or heaven, Nicodemus had to see the wilderness experience of his ancestors as symbolic of their being reborn, from slavery to freedom as God’s chosen people. Did he not think Judaism had been reborn from the ashes of Judah and the exile in Babylon? Did he not think Jews were given an everlasting life?
This reading selection then proceeds to the often quoted verse that is John 3:16. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
The context of this statement has to be seen hand-in-hand with the statements about Adam (the “Son of mankind”) and Moses (“the uplifted serpent of eternal salvation”). The plurality of we and us means “God’s only Son” is not limited to only one man. Jesus told that to Nicodemus, who thought only in terms of “I,” his ego, his being, his intellect and his power and wealth. To Nicodemus, Adam and Moses were long gone, idly standing in some imaginary place he had been taught to believe in – Sheol. How is that different than those today who think God sent the world Jesus, who died long ago and is some entity that is not only separate from us, but so special that we could never be so bold as think we could be reborn as the Son of Man?
The last verse in this reading is then, “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
This is a most important statement about Adam, the original priest for the One God. Adam is known for having committed (along with Eve) the original sin. He and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden (Heaven on Earth); but that was God’s plan. An all-knowing God could not have been so upset with His Son having sinned (unbeknownst to God), so that God would condemn Adam’s soul spirit to an eternity of roaming the world. No. God knew Adam would sin, so God would intentionally send him to Earth to begin religion that taught belief in God.
That says Adam was not the first Man, but the first priestly man. That was God’s plan for the world, out of love. It means that Adam would beget a lineage of holy men (the history of the Holy Bible), leading to Adam’s soul returning in Jesus. That planned reincarnation would be “in order that the world might be saved through him.”
As the Gospel reading lesson for the First Sunday after Pentecost, when the Apostles of Christ are to symbolically take the first steps in ministry, it illuminates the aspect of an Apostle being Ordained by God to preach. This freestyle approach, which does not come with diplomas, certifications, or documents of authorization, will cause the establishment hierarchy to follow such a priest and seek to employ him or her as a profitable asset to suit their needs, not God’s. They will always come to challenge and test one’s mettle; but they will come with complimentary words, such as, “We know that you are a teacher who has come from God.” The establishment challenges all who might rock their boats of piety, exposing them as being only memorizers of words and practitioners of manipulation, profiting from the ignorant remaining forever lost. Today’s lesson is to question the “rulers of the religious” as to who sent him or her into the world as a teacher of spiritual matters.
The First Sunday after Pentecost is identified as Trinity Sunday for a reason. Ministry in the name of Jesus Christ cannot begin without each and every Apostle having his or her soul cleansed by the Holy Spirit. That can only come after one has proved a love of Scriptural study and serious faith in prayer. The reward of such devoted commitment, where God knows one’s most secret, heartfelt motivations, is God’s love entering one’s being. Once baptized by God’s Holy Spirit, one rises from those waters seeing the dove of Christ settling upon one’s Mind. We too hear (regardless of human gender), “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” At that time, one has been reborn as the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.
A priest for the One God can only be a walking, talking reflection of true righteousness, as the Trinity that was Jesus of Nazareth … that was Moses leading the Israelites … that was Adam before and after his time in Eden. A priest for the One God must be born from above.